LAHAINA, Hawaii – Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson was very clear about what he said to his team after it lost its opener Monday in the Maui Invitational by being out-toughed and out-rebounded by California.
"I think they answered the call," Anderson said. "I put a challenge in front of them and challenged their manhood. I thought we had toughness today, especially going to the rack and getting loose balls. I thought we competed for 40 minutes.
"The first game I am going to attribute to nerves," Anderson added. "....Hopefully it is a sign that we are maturing and growing and understanding what it takes to be a team and to play as a team."
The Razorbacks responded in a big way – especially with a 10-0 to start the second half inside of a 30-10 spree – that lifted them to a 87-73 win over Minnesota Tuesday in a consolation game that kept Arkansas alive for fifth place in the event.
Alandise Harris had 15 points and 6 rebounds and Bobby Portis 12 points and 7 rebounds as the Razorbacks (4-1) put five players in double figures, outrebounded their bigger foe 33-27 and dominated Richard Pitino's squad 52-33 after halftime.
"Plain and simple, they just out-toughed us today," Minnesota guard Andre Hollins said. "We fought well the the first half, but we came out in the second half and they punched us right in the face and we didn't respond. We tried to come back, but they just kept punching us in the face."
Arkansas, which shot 54.5 percent from the field on Tuesday, moves on to play No. 13 Gonzaga (5-1) Wednesday at 4 p.m. CST in the fifth-place game and the first-ever match-up between the two schools.
The Zags, upset by Dayton 84-79 Monday night, drilled Division II and host Chaminade 113-81 in Tuesday's second game.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few - whose team had six players in double figures - assessed the challenge his club faces in Arkansas.
"They're off the charts athletic and long and we have not done a great job thus far keeping guys off the glass, which is usually a strength of ours," Few said. "In less than 24 hours we're going to have to really solve that and then we're going to have to be really strong and have a fortitude about us mentally and physically to take care of the ball and to stay in attack mode.
"But we do have basically three point guards out there and almost four when you add (Kyle) Dranginis," Few added. "That's a lot of good decision makers, but again, they just bring something that we don't face. I don't even think we saw anything like it last year. You know, I was just talking to (California) Coach (Mike) Montgomery and they had all week to put in a bunch of press breaks. We don't have that luxury, so we'll just kind of go with what we have."
Minnesota (5-2) – who lost to Syracuse 75-67 on Monday – scored the last five points of the first half to take a 40-35 lead to the break.
But Arkansas roared out of the locker room with its 10-0 spurt and never trailed from that point on - eventually taking a 65-50 lead with just over 10 minutes left as it solved the Gophers' 2-3 zone.
"We started attacking the basket with purpose against their zone," Anderson said. "Their zone really made us run our offense to tell you the truth."
It also was a day where the Razorbacks owned the second half – something they pride themselves on doing.
"I preach to our guys that it is a 40-minute game, not a 20-minute game," Anderson said. "Sometimes teams may have their fun in the first half, but if there is a half you want to win, it's the second half. I thought our pressure defense had an effect disrupting what Minnesota wanted to do."
Pitino, the son of former Kentucky and current Louisville head coach, was stunned by the turnaround for his team that took Syracuse to the wire on Monday.
"It was the tale of two halves certainly when it comes to the defense," Pitino said. "We did a good job the first half, but did not the second half. But you have to give Arkansas all the credit. They just beat us - especially in the second half at every facet of the game. They did a great job and I give them all the credit."
Rashad Madden had 11 points for Arkansas while Michael Qualls added 10 points and 8 rebounds, Fred Gulley 10 points and 4 assists, Anthlon Bell 8 points and 6-10 freshman Moses Kingsley 7 points and 4 rebounds in 10 minutes of action after not playing in the first game.
"We inserted Alandise into the starting line-up and he is our leading scorer and it doesn't surprise me to see that he is our leading scorer in this particular game," Anderson said. "The one thing I know he brings is toughness and I think it really just kind of transcends into your whole team."
Kingsley was in the ballgame during a key portion of the 30-10 run – including coming up with a loose ball and racing downcourt for a dunk that pushed Arkansas ahead 65-50 with 9:29 left in the game.
"A guy like Moses Kingsley had been sitting there and we talk about having toughness as well as some athletic ability and he gave us that when he came out," Anderson said. "...He just got a chance to go out and do what he does. He does it in practice each and every day...I guess I just have to get smarter to get him out there on the floor."
Portis lauded his fellow big man.
"I think I was very proud of Moses because the first four games Moses hadn't been in the game much," Portis said. "But Moses never complained about playing. He just came in the game and tried to affect the game as much as he can, keep our energy and effort."
Anderson also praised point guards Gulley and Madden, who had just three turnovers in a combined 40 minutes of action against the pressing Gophers.
Gulley and Madden also combined to go 5-of-5 from 3-point range as Arkansas hit 8-of-17 from beyond the arc on the day – including 5 of 8 in the second half.
"They did a good job of taking care of the ball against the zone, more than that they made some shots," Anderson said. "(That allowed) us to get some stuff going. Fred actually was the guy that really got us going. He made his first two shots, then hits a big three and goes 4-of-4. I think that is critical and I think that is something that he can build on."
Arkansas guards also really got after Minnesota's defensively in the second half as the Gophers made only 10-of-32 shots after intermission.
"I thought our guards really had an effect on wearing Minnesota's guards down," Anderson said. "That's what took place...As they wore down, I thought we we got much more energy and I think our bench really provided it."
The Gophers ended up with 16 turnovers.
"We just tried to get after them, put a lot of pressure on them and get it in the ball handlers' hands," Harris said.
• • •
Sam Dower, Jr. and Gerard Coleman had 19 points each to lead the Bulldogs over the Silverswords.
Kevin Pangos - a 6-2 All-American guard prospect - and Dragonis added 18 each while Gary Bell, Jr. had 16 and 7-1, 296-pound Polish-born center Premzmek Karnowski had 10 points and 13 rebounds for Gonzaga.
Alandise Harris grabs a rebound away from Austin Hollins
Arkansas 87, Minnesota 73
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