Partrick Beverley had 13 of his game-high 19 points in the first half and an offensively- aggressive Steven Hill added a season-high 11 as Arkansas celebrated the end of finals by bashing Oakland 91-57 before 9,271 fans Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Vincent Hunter also chipped in 11, Gary Ervin added 9 points and 8 assists and Darian Townes 9 points in a game in which Arkansas (8-1) forced Oakland (6-6) – a Mid-Continent Conference chool from Rochester, Michigan – into a whopping 27 turnovers that it turned into 44 points.
"I am really impressed with our team tonight," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "We set the tone defensively and forced 27 turnovers and had 18 steals. That is great hustling and great effort. This is our most complete game, especially from an offensive standpoint."
The Razorbacks shot 55.6 percent (30-of-54) from the field ]during the game, 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from 3-point range and 86.4 percent (19-of-22) from the free throw line.
"The shooting was great tonight," Heath said. "I will take that any night. If I could I would bottle it up and carry it with me from game to game...Our guys were comfortable and setting each other up. We had 20 assists tonight. That is a good team effort."
It was the first game in 10 days for Arkansas, who took time off for semester tests and will now have a run in the next seven days of playing Texas Tech in North Little Rock on Saturday, at Texas the following Wednesday and then hosting ORU in Fayetteville.
"The time off for finals gave us a thirst to play and I think we were all ready to play hard," Beverley said. "We had great energy tonight and a lot of people stepped up."
Oakland head coach Greg Kampe was understandably upset that his team got whacked especially after playing competively in losses at No. 4 Pittsburgh (66-55), Cincinnati (68-61) and Michigan State (71-53).
"They stole the ball big from us tonight," Kampe said. "Eighteen steals - I've never heard of that many. We couldn't make a shot. It's tough. This is as bad a game as we have played. Give Arkansas credit."
Arkansas busted loose from a tight lead early on with a 15-1 spree, one that began with Sonny Weems' 15-footer and was capped by Hill's 8-foot jump shot that pushed the Razorbacks ahead 25-9 with 10:12 left in the opening half.
Charles Thomas' two free throws built that margin to 39-20 with 2:15 left before intermission, but the visitors did cut it to 12 right before halftime.
However, Townes hit his first 3-pointer at the halftime as Arkansas took a 44-27 lead to the break.
The 3-pointer by Townes - the first of the season he has attempted - came after Oakland senior guard Rick Billings inexplicably fell down with two seconds left in the first half.
"It's like someone had a voodoo doll," Kampe said. "I don't know why he fell."
Arkansas scored the first six points of the second half and had rolled to a 60-34 lead when Hunter swished a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Beverley gave the Razorbacks their largest lead of the night at 28 when he picked up a loose ball, raced downcourt and slammed one home to put his team up 63-35 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.
"The last couple of games I felt like I was letting my team down," Beverley said. "I wanted to come out today and play my role for the team. We were able to hit open shots and played well as a team tonight."
Heath took his starters out during a TV timeout with 11:16 and his team ahead 63-39 , but reinserted them four minutes later when his reserves suffered several lapses in judgment out on the court.
Beverley's free throw got it to 77-48 with 4:58 left brought the reserves back on and Sean McCurdy and Preston Cranford both buried 3-pointers to surge that lead to 83-48 with just under four minutes left.
Derrick Nelson had 16 to lead Oakland while Shawn Hopes, a 6-7, 275-pound center, added 12 and John Jones and Vova Severovas each added 10.
The Goldem Grizzlies' road trip doesn't get any easier with a game at UCLA on Saturday night.
Arkansas 91, Oakland 57
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