Michael Washington had a season-high 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, Marshawn Powell 13 points and Glenn Bryant a career-high 11 as the University of Arkansas whipped Alabama State 76-51 before a crowd of 6,108 fans that included PGA golfer and Arkansas native John Daly.
It was the third straight win for the Razorbacks (5-5), who played for the first time in nine days because of finals and without leading scorer Rotnei Clarke (tendinitis) and reserve Michael Sanchez (foot).
"We are obviously very happy to win," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We had to deal with some severe stuff obviously - another shoot-around where we lost our leading scorer and earlier in the season we lost Mike at a shoot-around. It throws 8 days of preparation of the window with the things we were working on, but I thought the guys handled it very well."
The hosts shot 52.7 percent from the field.
"Obviously our focus was to go inside and try to get Mike and Marshawn established, but tonight was even more so with Rot being out," Pelphrey said. "We were going to make sure we got every opportunity to get that thing in the hole before we do anything with it and obviously after it goes inside than our guards can drive it in there."
While Clarke is expected back on Saturday, Sanchez is expected to miss an extended amount of time as he did to start the season.
"It is going to be another period of time for Mike," Pelphrey said. "I am not sure what that period of time is, but he is just not responding."
The Hornets (1-7) did indeed not make a single two-point basket in the first half while the home team was grabbing a 36-19 halftime advantage.
The visitors shot just 17 percent from the field in first 20 minutes - and just 27 percent for the game - while getting their points via 5 3-pointers and 4 free throws.
Alabama State did have 10 2-pointers in the second half, but only 1 3-pointer and Arkansas also had a 45-34 rebound advantage.
"I found that to be bizarre," Pelphrey said. "In the second half, we only gave them one three so they ended up with six. We just have to keep making progress and I think if you can rebound the basketball that is the whole key." Washington had 15 of his points and Marcus Britt all 8 of his as Arkansas rolled up 26-0 advantage in points in the paint before intermission.
"I thought Mike got off to a great start, established a presence and scored some buckets for us," Pelphrey said. "We were happy to win with that." Washington's free throw gave the Razorbacks their largest lead of the night to that point – a 46-26 margin with just under 16 minutes left in the game.
"Michael had a big game tonight and they couldn't stop him so we just kept getting it to him," Powell said.
That lead grew to 74-49 on Bryant's dunk with 2:03 remaining.
It wasn't a perfect outing because Arkansas had 15 turnovers.
"I thought at times we were sloppy with the basketball and it led to some easy baskets for them," Pelphrey said. "We had some of that early in the game and in the second half, but overall we had 21 assists and 15 turnovers - which is very good."
Jemal Farmer and Julysess Nobles each added 8 points each for the UA squad.
Menji Mundadi led Alabama State with 21 points.
Arkansas will return to action Saturday night when it host Stephen F. Austin in a 3 p.m. game.
Pelphrey expects Clarke to be able to play in that game and noted that the knee first started bothering him a few weeks ago against Oklahoma.
He was clear that suspended starting point guard Courtney Fortson will not play in that game, but is moving closer to playing and has continued to practice with the team.
"I think this team has an opportunity to grow and hopefully we will," Pelphrey said.