What happened in Memphis and Jonesboro on Wednesday night looked like it might happen for a little while in Fayetteville on Thursday.
But unlike the Tigers and Red Wolves – who lost their second exhibition games of the preseason to Christian Brothers College and Southern Arkansas, respectively – Arkansas woke up early in the second and got through its final tune up before the regular season.
Bobby Portis had 22 points and Michael Qualls, Jacorey Williams and Moses Kinsgley all 13 as the Razorbacks downed Pittsburg State 89-66 before 4,228 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks shot 49.1 percent from the field (30-of-61) and forced 25 turnovers, but were just 3-of-17 from 3-point range and just 26-of-42 from the free throw line.
"It wasn't a thing of beauty, but at the same time there has never been an ugly win," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "We'll take it. I thought the second half was much better than the first half. First half we came out and got off to a real, real slow start. I thought the energy level was not there. But we had some guys that came off the bench and really picked it up.
"It was some of those guys that didn't it the other night - Jacorey Williams, Manuale Watkins, Anton Beard, Moses Kingsley," Anderson noted of the first exhibition game. "Those guys gave us some great, great energy. Of course we are playing a lot of combinations so you saw the rhythm of the game go another direction."
There were a total of 58 fouls called and 71 free throws shot between the two teams.
"When you shoot that many free throws that were shot tonight, it was like tell-tale signs of last year where teams were shooting 70 and 80 free throws," Anderson said. "It really disrupts the rhythm of the game.
"But let's give Pittsburg State some credit," Anderson added. "They really did a good job of attacking us and it really wasn't until the second half that we started doing a much better job of limiting them to one shot and taking advantage of our size and attacking the basket a lot more.
"We didn't shoot it well from the perimeter, but they were giving us baskets going toward the hole or getting to the free throw line," Anderson continued. "You have got to see free throws better than we shot - 26 out of 42. That is not going to cut it with the schedule we had."
Anderson agreed that maybe his team was looking ahead to Sunday's 4 p.m. regular season opener against Alabama State - something Memphis and Arkansas State might have got caught doing on Wednesday.
"They know everyone else is opening up tomorrow and they...probably looked over at the jerseys of who they were playing," Anderson said. "That is one thing that team can't afford to do. This game was a big game, big for Pittsburg State. They had the opportunity to play against Arkansas. As I told those guys, they are not playing them, they are playing the tradition. They are playing the Final Four team, the national championship team and hopefully this team will understand that so every time they go out, they have got to leave it all on the floor.
"I thought we had some guys that did not leave it on the floor, but that is a lesson learned," Anderson added. "There are going to be nights when guys don't have it going on and we have got to get some guys going off that bench."
Portis - 6 of 8 from the field and 10-of-14 from the line - mentioned after the game that he expected to have a tough practice on Friday.
"I think tomorrow it will be a tough practice," Portis said. "I think Coach (Anderson) will come in and make us watch film and then come Sunday you will see some different Razorbacks on Sunday."
Anderson seemed to confirm that.
"The first half wasn't up to par, up to standards," Anderson said. "So we will have some discussions."
Qualls liked the way his team got to the line, but knows it has to make more - albeit Rashad Madden's 3-of-8 performance fro the charity stripe helped skew the mark.
On the bright side, Portis got 10 of his points from there while Kingsley was 5-of-6 and Qualls 4of-5.
"The game was slow tonight and we had to grind it out," Qualls said. "It was more like a free throw shooting competition. We fought our way through it. I feel like as a team we have got to shoot free throws better. Basically I liked the way we got to the line, we had good penetration. So that is good sign that we were shooting the free throws."
Qualls also noted that making free throws was a key to Arkansas' press.
"We are a fast-tempo team and we want to get after for awhile and cause multiple turnovers in a row, but we bail them out with a foul and that slows down our whole thing," Qualls said. "And if we don't make our last free throw, we can't set up for the press. Free throws is a big part of what we do."
Arkansas had a 40-30 lead late in the first half before Pitt State cut that to 46-39 by the halftime buzzer.
The second half started with Qualls being fouled on a 3-pointer, nailing all three freebies and then Anthlon Bell turning a steal into a 51-39 edge.
By the time Kingsley had swatted away a dunk attempt and ran the floor for a dunk and a lay up, Arkansas was up 70-50 with 10:37 left.
"I thought Moses was very instrumental in the second half," Anderson said. "You could just see the fire just come alive in him. He kind of woke up the building, too."
Devon Branch had 20 points and Joseph Gustafson 12 to lead the way for the Gorillas, who shot just 38.3 percent from the floor, 6-of-18 from 3-point range and 24-of-29 from the free throw line.
Arkansas 89, Pittsburg State 66
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