Arkansas flexes rebounding strength in 97-72 thrashing of North Florida

Arkansas dominated with a 52-28 edge in rebounds to roll past North Florida, 97-72, on Tuesday night in Bud Walton Arena. Moses Kingsley led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mike Anderson's scouting report turned out to be on target Monday as he pointed to one of the keys as Arkansas prepared for 3-point happy North Florida. The Arkansas coach called the Ospreys "weak" in rebounding.

The Razorbacks (6-5) took advantage of that weakness with 21 offensive rebounds en route to a 52-28 pounding on the glass to roll to a 97-72 victory Tuesday before 9,281 in Bud Walton Arena.

Moses Kingsley was in beast mode -- and point guard mode on one glorious fast break that smacked of the departed Bobby Portis -- to help the Hogs rebound from a 69-66 overtime loss to Mercer on Saturday. The 6-10 Kingsley delivered 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and two assists.

There was a supreme display of athleticism and talent with just over five minutes left in the first half when Kingsley blocked a shot, retrieved it in the same swat and led a fast break for a dish to Manny Watkins. North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll called a timeout at the 5:17 mark as the crowd roared.

Kingsley said it was a "risky" move to lead the break, but he thought he had no choice when he saw no point guards in the middle of the court and Watkins on the wing with only one Osprey back.

"I knew if I turned it over, I was probably coming out," Kingsley said. "I was glad I could get it to Manny and he finished it."

Anderson said, "He knows me. But he is starting to do things just like Bobby. As a coach, I'm getting comfortable with Moses. It was his night tonight."

It wasn't so much that move that Driscoll raved about afterwards as the way Kingsley threw his weight around under the basket as the Hogs fed their big man.

"When you watched Moses  on tape, I didn't realize he was that physical," Driscoll said. "I didn't realize he was that thick. That's as good as he's been. He didn't just mess around with it, he scored it. Some post guys get it on the low block and they mess around with it."

Kingsley said the Hogs have focused on finishing in the last two days after losing to Mercer.

"Finish strong," he said. "Go up around the rim and finish. That's what we've talked about."

Anderson said, "Moses was really strong inside. We've got to play inside out."

Later, he added, "We finished a lot better. We finish four or five of those against Mercer, it's over. Wake Forest, too. That's shoulda woulda. We got better but we are still a work in progress."

The rebounding was "big," Anderson said. He looked at North Florida's lack of bulk inside and the focus on loading even the front line with 3-point shooters as a sign the Hogs could dominate there.

"First, we guarded their shooters," he said. "We chased down the long rebounds. And, on offense, we attacked the glass. We thought we had a nice size advantage. I thought we had the opportunity to go to the offensive boards with that size advantage. Moses did a nice job there, but all of our guys rebounded, even the guards."

Anthlon Bell added 20 points and Anton Beard added 13. They each hit two 3-pointers in the last 11:31 to help the Hogs pull away. Bell's bomb from the right wing at the 11:31 mark was the first of the game for the Hogs, keeping alive their streak of 885 straight games with a three.

Arkansas led 49-41 at the half as Manny Watkins drove for a 3-point play with 1.4 seconds left. North Florida hung around for the first seven minutes of the second half, but was never closer than 9 points. The first Bell three made it 64-49 and Beard's three at the 3:02 mark made it 87-70. Driscoll immediately cleared his bench.

Driscoll pointed to the physical nature of the Hogs as the difference. He said the Ospreys had been outrebounded by Louisville in decisive fashion, but not in such a physical manner.

"Obviously, rebounding has been a problem, but we've gotten through it some nights," Driscoll said. "On a night when you don't shoot it that well, we've been able to rebound and get past it. But they were really impressive as far as their rebounding. Louisville beat us by 22 on the boards, but they weren't physical like this. It's an uphill battle when you give up 21 on the offensive boards like tonight."

Anderson said the Ospreys were a challenge to guard on the perimeter.

"They average making 14 threes," he said. "We held them -- held them -- to 10. We did a good job. We were dialed in and made them put it on the floor. We switched and guarded their shooters. They have so many shooters."

It helped that lead gunner Beau Beech picked up his third foul at the 4:01 mark of the first half, then his fourth at 12:07 of the second. Beech finished with just 9 points on 1 of 5 shooting on threes. Beech entered with a team best 15.6 scoring average on 45 made threes.

Watkins, inserted in the starting lineup, was on Beech in long stretches and didn't provide many openings.

"We wanted another blue collar guy in the lineup," Anderson said. "Manny gave us another guy to put on one of their shooters."

Anderson said the Hogs will have four days off before returning to practice the day after Christmas to prepare for the final nonconference game on Dec. 30 at Dayton. The Hogs open SEC play at Texas A&M on Jan. 2.

North Florida (10-5) shot just 39 percent and 37 percent on threes, making just 10 of 27.  Guard Dallas Moore led the Ospreys with 17 points but made just 7 of 16.

Anderson was pleased with the way the Hogs shared the basketball. They had 27 assists on their 42 baskets. Jabril Durham led the way with 7 assists against one turnover. Trey Thompson, often feeding Kingsley for dunks, had five assists.

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