After a slow start that likely had to do with a little bit of housekeeping, Arkansas turned up the volume and raced away in its opening exhibition game on Friday night.
Michael Qualls' 17 points and Jacorey Williams' 16 led six players in double figures as the Razorback routed Central Oklahoma 110-74 before 5,269 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
All of Qualls' points came in the second half as both he and senior Rashad Madden (9 points) sit out the first half due to disciplinary reasons per Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson.
“We had two guys that didn't play in the first half,” Anderson said. “That was some housekeeping from Coach Anderson. They didn't play – Ky Madden and Michael Qualls. You saw them in the second half. I thought when they came out, they came out and really boosted the energy level even to another level.
“...We're done with that,” Anderson added.
West Virginia transfer Keaton Miles added 12 points, Bobby Portis 11 points and 7 rebounds, Anthlon Bell 11 points and Alandise Harris 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for the Razorbacks, who trailed 27-26 midway through the first half.
A new five sent in sparked a rally that had the Razorbacks ahead 49-38 and then the home teams raced away early in the second half.
“It was good just to play somebody else,” Anderson said. “As a coach you talk about teams coming out and leaving everything on the floor against the University of Arkansas and Central Oklahoma – credit them with (head coach) Terry Evans – they came out and delivered a punch early on.
“To our team's credit, our depth and our energy guys coming off that bench were really, really huge – JaCorey Williams, Keaton Miles, Anton Beard, Manuale Watkins – that second group came in and gave us some big minutes and it continued with a guy like Trey Thompson coming off.”
Williams hit his first six field goals and finished the night 7-of-9 from the floor while also grabbing four rebounds, blocking two shots and dishing out an assist in 14 minutes off the bench.
“It's letting the game come to him,” Anderson said of Williams. “At first, he looked like that guy trying to go out there and get it, but as the game went on, he got into a rhythm and it wasn't predicated on offense. He does a great job of moving inside the zone. He can really run the floor. He is our most-conditioned athlete right now. He is jumping out of the gym as well.”
Qualls was 5-of-5 from the field – hitting all four of his 3-pointers – while dishing out three assists and picking up a pair of steals.
“I thought he was focused,” Anderson said. “I thought he played with energy, I thought he played the right way, taking what the defense was giving him. I thought he was active on defense, even at the end. I thought he had a good all-around game.
“I thought Ky (Madden) was an orchestrator out there, rebounded the basketball, got guys in the right place – just seemed we had a much better rhythm out there in the second half,” Anderson said. “You could see some nerves going early at the beginning of the game.”
Indeed new point guards Jabril Durham (1 point, 5 rebounds) and Anton Beard (2 points, 3 assists) combined to go 0-of-9 from the field.
“I think it was just the first time, jitters and all that, but now they have a game up under their belt and we will move forward,” Anderson said.
Mahlon Jones and Seth Heckart both had 22 points to lead Central Oklahoma, a Division II school.
The Razorbacks shot 51.9 percent from the field (41-of-79), 33.3 percent from 3-point range (8-of-24) and 71.4 percent from the free throw line (20-of-28).
They forced 25 turnovers and turned those into 37 points while also winning the board battle 47-38 and holding Central Oklahoma to 41.2 percent from the field.
Arkansas will host its second exhibition game next Thursday when it welcomes Pittsburg State at 7 p.m.
“We will be off tomorrow and then we will get back at it Sunday,” Anderson said. “We've got some things that we can critique on the tape and let them watch themselves. Sometimes they hear me talking and they think “Coach, you are exaggerating.' But now, I can show them with the film cause the tape does not lie.”
Photos by Jason Ivester
JaCorey Williams gets inside for two of his 16 points.
Michael Qualls made all five of his shots from the field, including all four of the 3-pointers he took.
Moses Kingsley was called for a flagrant foul on this block attempt. He ended the night with 6 points and 4 blocks.
Arkansas 110, Central Oklahoma 74
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