It took a few minutes for Arkansas to shake off Brooklyn, but the Razorbacks got back into the win column in a different type of offensive manner Tuesday night in the friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena.
Moses Kingsley had his fourth double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Dusty Hannahs added 21 points and Anthlon Bell chipped in 17 as Arkansas had seven players in double figures while whipping Northwestern State 117-78 before 4,809 fans.
Jabril Durham had his first double-double with career highs of 14 points and 10 assists and also had five steals, graduate transfer center Willy Kouassi chipped in 12 points and 9 boards, Keaton Miles 11 points and Jimmy Whitt 10 for the Razorbacks (3-3).
True freshman Lorezno "Doobie" Jenkins got his first action and hit a 3-pointer for his first career points.
It was the most points scored by the Razorbacks since they put up 130 in a win over Alcorn State on Nov. 13, 2010 when Rotnei Clarke scored a school-record 51 points.
“Our guys played with great energy, they played together, they played unselfish and our defense created some easy opportunities for us and we took the fight to Northwestern,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said.
Manuale Watkins added 8 points and 9 rebounds on a night when the Razorbacks shot 55.7 percent (44-of-79) from the field, but took only 15 3-pointers while making six.
“There was a lot of scoring going on,” Anderson said. “The game was up and down like we wanted it to be and when you play that way and guys give us quality minutes, it is good to see.
“It was good to see some other guys knock shots down besides Dusty and Bell…But the thing I like is that we didn’t live and die with the 3-pointer.”
It was a big response to getting outscored 21-1 in the final 6:38 of a loss to Stanford (69-66) Friday in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off in Brooklyn.
“It feels great, especially when we all feel like we were all supposed to win that (Stanford) game a long time ago,” Durham said. “It was a bad taste in our mouth and I still have that bad taste today and I wanted to come out…and impose our will from the get-go.”
Arkansas got 39 points of offense off of forcing 25 turnovers from Northwestern State, which had lost to Ole Miss (90-76), Arizona (61-42) and Auburn (119-81) earlier this season.
“I thought our pressure really bothered them, disrupted them,” Anderson said.
Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy thought his team - which is without star Jalen West - didn’t put up the fight that it could have.
“Well, six games in 15 days and we ran into the wall,” McConanthy said. “We have a lead 27-26 and then throw it away five straight times. They went on a 15-0 run and from there it was curtains.
“Our guys just didn’t respond like we wanted to. I am sorry we didn’t give Arkansas a better test.
“I was just really frustrated with the number of turnovers. It has been a long time since I played with a team that has turned the ball over that much.
“Last year we played up here (in a 100-92 Arkansas win) and we had five turnovers going into the last minute of the game. We multiply that by five going into tonight and that is pretty rough because that leads to 39 points off of those turnovers.”
Arkansas, which hit 23-of-30 free throws and had and 68 points in the paint, led 54-38 at intermission and then put up 63 points in the second half.
That offensive explosion came after going a stretch of over nine minutes without a field goal in the loss to Stanford and the first few minutes of Tuesday night’s game.
Arkansas used two runs in the first half - a 16-3 run to take a 10-point lead and then a 16-2 spree in just over three minutes later in the half to re-take the lead and build a 42-29 cushion.
The Razorbacks would take a 54-38 lead into the break and then blow that out to 46 points midway through the second half.
“We got off to a slow start, a little sluggish coming off the New York trip last week, but as we got in a nice little rhythm, our defense kind of triggered some offense for us,” Anderson said.
“We did a good job in the first half of really attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line and establishing a low post presence.
“I think we shot six 3-pointers in that half and that is probably the least amount of threes we have shot in a half so that means our guys too advantage of the strength we had in this particular game, which was Moses inside.”
Kouassi, the 6-10, 220-pound transfer from Kennesaw State, had his best game as a Razorback.
“I knew I was going to have to step up, I’m always ready to step up," Kouassi said. "My job as a senior is to bring energy to this team. Every time I step out on the floor, I play as hard as I can. I’m all about winning and that’s what I came here for. I just want to win, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
That was needed as Arkansas was still without 6-10 sophomore Trey Thompson, who injured his ankle in the first half of Thursday’s loss to Georgia Tech and has missed the last two games.
“It was good for him (Kouassi) to get some more seasoning and get a chance to play,” Anderson said. “I think that is how you learn. This guy is a fifth-year guy and it is kind of like this is all new to him.
“So it was good to see him go out and have some success and how he can help our team. What I like more than anything else was his energy level, trying to protect the paint and going and getting rebounds. He was just one rebound away from having a double-double in 18 minutes.”
Zeek Woodley, who came in averaging 23.8 points, led Northwestern State with 26 points while Ishamel Lane added 17.
Arkansas will travel to Wake Forest to play Friday night at 6 p.m. CST.
Moses Kingsley and Dusty Hannahs each had 21 points.
Jabril Durham had 14 points, 10 assists and 5 steals in Tuesday's game.
Anthlon Bell had 17 points and a career-high 7 rebounds.
Photos by Jason Ivester