Arkansas 107, Portland St. 69

Senior guard Dontell Jefferson tied a school record with 15 assists and Ronnie Brewer scored a career-high 24 points and Charles Thomas a career-high 20 to lead Arkansas to a 107-69 rout of Portland State in its season opener Friday night before 12,354 fans at Bud Walton Arena

It appears that the University of Arkansas' basketball team had its mind firmly on the season-opening task at hand Friday night and not going Hawaiian.

Ronnie Brewer had 20 of his career-high 24 points by halftime, Charles Thomas chipped in a career-highs of 20 points and 7 rebounds, and Dontell Jefferson had 9 of a school-record 15 assists before intermission as the Razorbacks took care of business by rolling Portland State 107-69Friday night before 12,354 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Jonathon  Modica had 14 of his 16 points in the opening half and Darian Townes 14 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks as Arkansas (1-0) shot 60 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line in a game where they led 60-29 at halftime.

"I thought we came out extremely focused and ready to play and not looking ahead one bit," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "I think that's just another part of the maturity of this team and it was great to see. We did a lot of great things offensivelyt and defensively, but most of all it was the energy and effort that I really loved."

It was the most points scored by the Razorbacks in Heath's four years and the most since a 107-78 win over Jackson State back in 2000.

Arkansas - which opens the Maui Invitational Monday night against No. 2 UConn in a 10:30 p.m. game televised by ESPN2 - put this game away with a 19-0 haymaker that lasted just over four minutes of court time.

Portland State first-year head coach Ken Bone, who left the arena without talking to reporters, did tell his radio announcers that "we were just overmatched in every area and played hard, but they just had too much for us."

Indeed Arkansas - playing without injured Vincent Hunter and suspended Eric Ferguson - had all 10 of the players that participated score and was able to rest a lot of its starting five early on in the second half.

The Razorbacks had 30 assists to 15 turnovers (many of the miscues coming late) while forcing 15 of the Vikings' 20 turnovers before halftime.

"I just love it when the assist-to-turnover ratio is 2 to 1 and that shows how well this team shares the ball and is playing together," Heath said. "We've still got a lot to work on, but it was a nice start and will send us into the game with Connecticut feeling good."

Arkansas hit 8-of-16 3 pointers with Brewer - who was 9-of-16 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc - showing off the improved form on his jump shot.

"He has been working so hard on that," Heath said. "He has been shooting the ball with balance and his shot has just been so much better this fall and the guys say it was throughout the summer."

That decisive first-half run started with Steven Hill's slam off of a Jefferson assist and was capped with Townes' turnaround jumper on the left baseline that pushed the Razorbacks ahead 33-10 with exactly nine minutes left in the opening half.

Townes' slam, Brewer's jumper and then Modica's 27-footer right before halftime pushed that advantage to 60-29 and removed any doubt.

Despite hitting 7-of-12 free throws in the first half, Portland State (0-1 ) - who won the Big Sky Conference last season but returns just one starter - amazingly trailed by 31 at halftime.

The Vikings hit 13-of-26 3-pointers including 6 of their first 7.

Jefferson's assist total tied Kareem Reid' s mark set against Jackson State in 1996. Reid also had two games of 14 that same season against Troy State and LSU and Lee Mayberry 13 vs. Texas A&M in 1991.

"Dontell did a great job of just setting the table," Heath said. "He really has improved and that's because he has put in the work and has confidence he can play at this level now."

Thomas certainly came to play in the second half and got a standing ovation from the crowd when he first battled hard for a offensive rebound and put it back and then flew over a table into some cheerleaders.

"I just love his energy and hustle and was really impressed with his intensity," Heath said. "I was worried when he dived over the table because I thought he might have hit his head. I guess he landed in the cheerleaders and kind of liked that."

Hill also had a very good second half, showing a couple of nice post moves in his expanded offensive arsenal while finishing with six points and 4 rebounds.

The Razorbacks hit the century mark when reserve Sammy Munsey drilled a 3-pointer that put Arkansas up 100-65 with just over three minutes left in the game.

Jefferson's 15th assist came on a Sean McCurdy 3-pointer soon afterwards.

Jefferson added 8 points while McCurdy had 7 points and 6 assists and fellow freshman Cyrus McGowan 6 points and 7 rebounds.

Jake Schroeder had 26 points and Juma Kamara 10 points for Portland State.

Arkansas leaves for Hawaii on Saturday morning.

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