It happened before a lot less people and was a lot less important, but Michael Qualls' game-winning dunk with less than a second left in Wednesday night's Red-White game had a familiar look to it.
Qualls got the final of his team-high 21 points when he flushed Rashad Madden's miss to complete a rally from a 20-point, first-half deficit and lift the Red to a 99-98 win over the White before an announced crowd of 3,500 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
That was the exact same thing that happened last season during the Razorbacks' 87-85 overtime win over Kentucky – and the ensuing inbound pass Tuesday night hit the scoreboard just as the Wildcats' heave did last January.
“Same thing as the first time, I just crashed the boards at the end,” Qualls said. “I was just trying to test my luck. Got another one. Our team fought back hard. We got behind deep, we were real behind. It showed a lot of leadership with guys like Ky (Madden) and everybody on the Red squad to come back and have that camaraderie.”
Bobby Portis had 28 points and 14 rebounds to lead the White team – including a double-double by halftime with 19 points and 10 boards. He said he had seen this ending before.
Portis missed the front end of a one-and one free throw opportunity with 11 seconds left that allowed the Red team to win it on the rebound bucket.
Madden (17 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds) was forced into an off-balanced shot by freshman Nick Babb, who got help from Jacorey Williams. Qualls was trailing the play and had a free run at the basket.
“In my head, I saw Ky shoot the ball and I already knew what was going to happen, but I couldn't get there quick enough,” Portis said. “I wasn't tired. I was just kind of short-armed my shot so it was just short and I missed it. So that's on me. I will take the blame for our loss. I should have made my free throws down the stretch. I missed the front end of two one-and-ones that cost us the game really so it's on me.”
Moses Kingsley was 9-of-10 from the field and both he and freshman point guard Anton Beard added 18 points for the winning Red team while Anthlon Bell added 15, Keaton Miles 8 and freshman center Trey Thompson a bucket and five rebounds.
JaCorey Williams had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the White squad while junior college transfer point guard Jabril Durham added 15 points, Alandise Harris 14 points and 8 rebounds, Texas Tech transfer Dusty Hannahs 12 points and Babb 5.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson saw both good and bad in the effort.
“It was an entertaining Red-White game,” Anderson said. “It was amazing how it just kind of went. It has been the story line of practices. They have been so competitive. It is a matter of guys making plays. I thought tonight they had a lot of fun and were excited to play in front of our fans and showcase some of the new parts that we've got and some of the maturity that guys have in their game.
“It was an exciting finish to say the least,” Anderson added. “We still have got a lot of work to do, especially defensively. But you have got to give the Red kudos because they had a chance to kind of quit because they were down 20, but the way we play you are never out of a game.”
Anderson was quick to point out that the game's final play would be gone over with his team for both its good and bad characteristics.
“It was exciting for the fans, but from a coaching standpoint – who is the guy who was supposed to have boxed him out?” Anderson related. “It is a teaching lesson to me. We made Ky take a difficult shot and somebody went to sleep. It was like it happened for us, but it can happen against us. It is a teaching point as well.”
Madden missed the shot against Kentucky, but did not see Qualls' dunk because he was turned the other way after the miss.
“That was the first thing I thought of was Kentucky and then when Alandise threw the ball and hit the clock, that was my first reaction – it happened again,” Madden said. “I seen this one. It was good to see it.”
Qualls had 19 of his 21 points after halftime – which ended with the White up 59-49.
“I feel like at first I was just trying to play off everybody else and do what I see fit – just try to fix things,” Qualls said. “In the second half, I tried to assert myself more. Just try to make something happen and create a spark.”
It was all about Portis in the first half as he had 19 points and 10 rebounds by intermission.
“I thought Bobby played well,” Anderson said. “I mean the first half was unbelievable. He had a double-double in the first half. I thought he wore down. He has been playing at a high level every since we started. The funny thing is no one hates to lose worse than Bobby. We can see he has gotten better.”
The fans on hand got to see the three new guards – Durham, Beard and Babb – and the returnee in Madden.
“I thought our guard play was good,” Anderson said. “I thought it was ok. Defensively, we have got to get better. We continue to express trying to share the basketball. I think our big guys were the recipients of easy passes with guys getting in there and finding them. It was good to see us try to get our big guys involved and have good ball movement.
“I thought Beard played with a lot of poise and I thought Durham did some good things for us as well and Babb was the guy that made the pass to Alandise on the lay-up when they went up one,” Anderson said. “And Ky ends up with a double-double.”
Arkansas will travel to Vilonia for a benefit scrimmage on Sunday with the exhibition opener slated for the following Friday.
“It was really like a reality check,” Qualls said. “The season is close and I am glad everybody got to see the new additions to the team as well as the players who have bettered their games. I hope the whole Fayetteville and Arkansas fan base is happy about the season and excited.”
Red 99, White 98
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