LSU’s Ben Simmons - the likely top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft - was the big attraction going in, but it was Arkansas’ bench that was the talk going out of Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday night.
Arkansas’ big three scorers - starters Moses Kingsley (21 points, 12 rebounds), Dusty Hannahs (17 points) and Anthlon Bell (12 points) - got their normal 50 points in the Razorbacks’ 85-65 win over the Tigers before 9,522 fans.
Trey Thompson’s career-high 13 points and 6 rebounds and Jimmy Whitt’s 12 points - all in the first half - headed up the reserves’ 32-0 blitz in bench points in what was head coach Mike Anderson's 100th win at the helm of the Razorbacks and his 300th overall.
It also didn’t hurt that the Razorbacks (14-14, 7-8) shot 54.1 percent (33-of-61) from the field overall, including a sizzling 63.3 percent (15-of-24) after intermission.
“I can’t say enough about our guys coming off the bench and really coming in and being effective,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “They scored 19 of the 34 points in the first half and they way they scored them was a lot different than the first group because theirs came off defense.
“I thought their defense was engaged, they were connected, they made Simmons work a lot harder than he was earlier in the game.
“Let’s give LSU credit. Simmons is one of the best players in the country and there is no question about it. It is hard to match up with him, the speed of a guard, the agility of the guard/forward and he has the athletic ability of a great player and that mindset.
“But out guys did a good job of making sure he didn’t just dominate.”
Simmons had 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists for LSU (16-12, 9-6), but also had five turnovers before fouling out on a technical with 2:02 left in the game.
LSU head coach Johnny Jones, who also got 22 points from freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, was surprised about the technical.
“He was coming to the bench and in the midst of our huddle and I think a lot of things went on where technicals possibly could have been called where he was in the play,” Jones said. “I think if something should have happened I was hoping at best it could have been a warning.”
Craig Victor, who had the game-winning basket in LSU’s 76-74 win over Arkansas in Baton Rouge last month, added 11.
"They executed and we didn't," Blakeney said.
The Tigers, who have now lost four of five since leading the SEC at 8-2, shot just 35.1 percent overall from the field (20-of-57), 29.2 percent from 3-point range and 18-of-29 from the free throw line.
Arkansas led just 34-32 at intermission before outscoring LSU 51-33 in the second half with Kingsley (with his 15th double-double of the season) and Thompson (6-of-6 on field goals) combining to go 10-of-10 after halftime and scoring 28 points.
“We knew that it was going to be a tough game here in Bud Walton Arena,” Jones said. “I thought in the first half that our guys did a good job of playing extremely hard, were active and played through a lot and went into the half only a couple points deficit.
“I thought in the second half that Arkansas did a good job of having their way and getting post touches, scoring the ball well inside and I thought Kingsley had a really good second half.”
Kingsley had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the second half alone after getting challenged by Anderson at halftime.
“Coach was not happy with me after the first half,” Kingsley said. “He said that I wasn’t aggressive and that is what I tried to do in the second half. I thought my shot wasn’t falling, but he said I should still be more aggressive.”
Anderson noted that he lit the fire under Kingsley after a first half where the big man had just 4 points and 5 rebounds.
“It wasn’t a nice (talk) at all,” Anderson said. “As a matter of fact, I started the halftime talk right at Moses. He responded.
“My voice carries. You may not think it does in here (the interview room), but it carries in the locker room. Trust me.
“He knew I was right in what I was saying. I thought he… wasn’t playing like Moses is capable of playing.”
It was a night when Arkansas outscored LSU 48-20 in the paint with Thompson - who had 11 of his 13 points after intermission - being a big help in that regard.
Thompson, the cover boy for Tuesday night’s scorecard, noted that he didn’t get overly excited about going against Simmons, but did feel a sense of urgency in the game.
“He is a great player, but I think the sense of urgency just goes up game by game and I just went out and tried to be aggressive and play loose without thinking,” Thompson said. “I just went out and played and my teammates put me in great position to score.”
Hannahs hit a trio of 3-pointers and Durham and Whitt two each on a night when Arkansas was 8-of-19 from 3-point range and 11-of-19 from the free throw line when Simmons was 11-of-18 himself from the charity stripe.
Bell also knocked down a 3-pointer, which was the 227th of his career and moved him past Todd Day into fourth place all-time in Razorback history.
Anderson said the 100th Razorback win and 300th overall was special, but not what is most important about coaching.
"It's not about the wins and losses," Anderson said. "It is about touching young men's lives."
LSU played without second-leading scorer Keith Hornsby, who is out with a hernia injury. He hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer last season to down the Razorbacks 81-78 in Fayetteville.
Arkansas will return to action Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. when it travels to Tennessee (13-14, 6-8).
Jimmy Whitt scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
Moses Kingsley gets inside to score.
Jabril Durham defends LSU's Jaylen Patterson