Anderson: Portis is a winner first

Mike Anderson and Scotty Thurman know the Hogs have a humble star focused on winning in Bobby Portis.

Bobby Portis put on a scoring show Wednesday night against Alabama, but Mike Anderson and Scotty Thurman are just as impressed with the person.

Portis scored 35 points to break Thurman's freshman scoring record at Arkansas in a 64-58 victory over Alabama. He did it with an efficient 14 of 17 performance from the field, 6 of 6 from the line and chipped in 9 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

Portis downplayed the scoring afterwards, claiming he cries after losses and never is focused on points or individual achievements. That was the takeaway from Anderson, his head coach, and Thurman, the school's director of player development.

"He's a winner," Anderson said. "You use one word to describe him, winner. It's whatever it takes to win. That's very refreshing. He wants to be great, not good."

Thurman said he'd known Portis since the sixth grade in the youth leagues in Little Rock. He pointed out that his training was top notch, under the watchful eye of Corliss Williamson.

"He was probably too serious at a young age," Thurman said. "He had a little bit of a temper. But he had pretty good instruction, from Corliss. He was one of his instructors and that's pretty good."

Thurman called Portis "humble" and pointed to the way he carries himself in all areas, including the class room and community action.

"I think what you see is that he's most happy that it came in a win," Thurman said. "It was definitely cool to watch it."

Thurman was not aware that his record had been broken until well after the game.

"I had some people ask what it felt like to lose the record and I hadn't thought about it," Thurman said. "People said it after the game. It was pretty cool, to be honest."

Thurman and Portis had a good-natured chat about the record Thursday afternoon.

"He just came in my office, kinda sheepish," Thurman said. "I told him I was upset. I told him I did it twice and they were both on the road. So we need that."

Portis will probably get a little more attention when he hits the road Saturday at Vanderbilt.

"The good thing about the way he plays, he's not a low post guy where you can double him," Thurman said. "He'll get more (attention), but the way we play with an open offense, that will help him."

Anderson knows the Hogs are playing a Vandy team on a roll. The Commodores are coming off a victory over rival Tennessee, their fourth straight to lift them to 5-4 in SEC play.

"They find a way to win," Anderson said. "That's what we are trying to win. What we did in our last conference game is find a way to make a play at the end.

"We want to go there and steal a win. We've been close and we hope to do that Saturday."

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