Midway through the second half Friday night, North Texas star DeAndre Harris got a dunk that gave his team a one-point lead and the Mean Green had thoughts of an upset.
But it also seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Razorbacks.
Michael Qualls had a career-high 22 points and 9 rebounds and Anthlon Bell and Rashad Madden 15 points each and No. 25 Arkansas went on a late spree and downed the Mean Green 89-73 at Bud Walton Arena.
“I tell you, let’s give North Texas a lot of credit,” Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. “They came in with a lot of fire and I thought they took the fight to us early on and were making shots early on.
“I thought we were a half-step slow or a little sluggish – maybe we had too much turkey during Thanksgiving Dinner at over the house,” Anderson added. “But in the second half I thought we really came out with a different mindset defensively…I thought the wear and tear was very evident going down the stretch.”
Madden also had 7 assists and 5 rebounds while Moses Kingsley added 9 points and 8 rebounds and Jacorey Williams 9 point for the Razorbacks (5-0) – off to their best start in seven years.<
They were needed because foul-plagued leading scorer Bobby Portis had just six points and six rebounds before fouling out with 1:03 left.
“We had a size advantage and we wanted to have some high-low, some pinning down there because they going to play a zone and pack it in there,” Anderson said. “He wasn’t out there and he gives you that threat of inside and outside."
“…The beauty of this team is that somebody else stepped up,” Anderson added.
The Mean Green hit 10-of-20 3-pointers – with T.J. Taylor going 4-of-7 – but only made 11-of-24 free throws and shooting 44.8 percent overall.
Arkansas shot just 40 overall and from 3-point range, but made 20-of-25 free throws as it continued it best start in seven year.
North Texas (4-2) took a 55-54 lead on a dunk by Harris with 11:57 left, but Anton Beard’s 3-pointer 16 seconds later gave Arkansas the lead for good.
Portis got two early fouls and did not score until almost midway through the second half.
Portis’ second and third field goals of the game were good for a 64-58 and then Bell got a steal and an old-fashioned 3-point play to surge Arkansas ahead 67-58 with 7:18 left.
Qualls then cashed in a free throw for a 68-58 advantage at the 6:28 mark and Arkansas cruised from that point on.
Arkansas won the rebounding battle 48-34 – including snatching 21 on the offensive boards.
“We should have had stick backs and we didn’t but that’s a good sign when you don’t shoot it well and you are not playing at your best, that you can still get it done,” Anderson said.
The Razorbacks will host Iona (4-0) Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Moses Kingsley guards Muhammed Amed
Arkansas 89, North Texas 73
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