The biggest players, stats, quotes and other news from Arkansas’ 73-62 win over Texas A&M on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Mardracus Wade scored 14 points Saturday, going 4 of 8 from the field, 3 of 5 from three-point range and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line.
2 Game VIPs
Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade With the season’s leading scorer, B.J. Young, scoring just two points and playing only 11 minutes, Wade picked up the slack. He finished with a team-high 14 points, going 3 of 5 from three-point range, but he also made things happen on defense with three steals.
Arkansas freshman forward Michael Qualls He only made two field goals, but he went 8 of 10 from the free-throw line for a team that was coming off a 5-for-13 free-throw shooting performance at Missouri. He finished with 13 points, including a three-pointer, and also provided great energy in his fifth start of the season.
17-1 Arkansas’ record at home this season, matching last season’s school-record win total at Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs also set a record with nine home SEC wins and produced the first undefeated home conference season since 1998 and the fifth in school history.
28-36 Arkansas’ free throws made and attempted Saturday.
23 Turnovers for Texas A&M, which led to 22 Arkansas points. The Hogs committed 12 turnovers.
15 Offensive rebounds for the Razorbacks on Saturday. They finished with 31 total rebounds, while Texas A&M had 24. In the Aggies’ 69-51 win over Arkansas on Jan. 9, they outrebound the Hogs 47-25.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson on not starting B.J. Young or Marshawn Powell, his two leading scorers this season: “There are team rules that we abide by, so with that being said I want to make sure our guys abide by them. That could be in an area of class attendance, just not doing the things that … it’s a coach’s decision.”
Anderson on going 17-1 at home and 9-0 at home in SEC play: “It’s a step in the right direction. We talk about how you compete for championships. You’ve got to take care of home and go steal some games. The recipe would have been even better this year if you go and split on the road, you’re going to have a chance to win a conference championship. That’s a step. We’re taking steps in the right direction. And I think you can see now we’ve got more guys ready to play. Early in the year, they weren’t ready to play.
Anderson on Young playing only 11 minutes and not being in the game late: “Some guys were playing a little bit better at that time. It was the timing of the game. I know he can play better. B.J. can play much better than he played today.”
Qualls on the difference in rebounding in this game vs. the teams’ previous matchup: “You’ve got to hit. You’ve got to want to rebound. You’ve got to want to get boards. You’ve got to want to push the tempo. If not, you’re going to get beat every time. It gets down to effort. You’ve got to have effort every game. You’ve got to bring it. I think if we let somebody else hit us, then we’re slow to hit back. But I feel like if we hit first, we’ll hit the whole game. So that’s a big benefit for us.”
Qualls on his free throws: “In practice we put up a lot of free throws. I just think we came out to play today. I hate losing. That Missouri loss, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It was, in a certain point of time, it’s got to get personal to you. No one likes to lose, and if you want to do big things, you can’t accept losing. There’s a certain point in time where losing isn’t good enough. I just want to be on the attack and get to the line … because in a lot of games that we lose, we get beat on the free-throw line and we get beat because we’ve got a slow tempo. We’ve got to control the tempo of the game, keep it fast, up and down, and the sky’s the limit from there.”
Wade on his performance: “Today, actually I was kind of relaxed. I was joking around today. I joke around, but I joked around a lot today. In the warmups line, I was dunking and stuff. I was just out there being casual today. I just came out to just play today. I wasn’t worried. I didn’t think about it too much. The only things on my mind were just winning and finishing up strong.”
Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy: “I’m just proud of our team playing without Elston Turner and playing two walk-ons a lot of minutes. Thought we fought hard, and this is a tough place to play. I played here 16 years ago as a head coach against Nolan Richardson, and I thought then it was one of the toughest places to play. Got great respect for how hard Arkansas plays and just the tradition of Arkansas basketball.”
For the box score, click HERE.
The Bottom Line
Arkansas saw an 18-point first-half lead dwindle to seven at halftime, and Texas A&M pulled as close as 38-35 in the second half. But the Razorbacks got back to playing Hog ball – attacking, forcing turnovers – to give Anderson his first-ever win over the Aggies in eight matchups.
The Razorbacks (19-12, 10-8 SEC) took care of business in their regular-season finale even with Young on the bench most of the game. The Hogs had five players who scored in double figures – Wade, Qualls, Rashad Madden (11), Anthlon Bell (10) and Powell (10) – against an Aggies team that was missing leading scorer Turner, who was out with injuries to his left wrist and pinkie finger.
Coty Clarke played like a “beast” at times, using Anderson’s words, and finished as the game’s leading rebounder with eight, including four on the offensive end.
Basically, the Hogs were a different team from when the previously faced the Aggies. In the previous matchup, not only was Arkansas outrebounded by 22, but it was also 4 of 15 from the free-throw line.
Now the Razorbacks have to find a way take their energy from home to the road – well, a neutral site, actually. The Hogs play in the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., next week.
The Next One
Arkansas takes on Vanderbilt on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Central in the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Razorbacks are a No. 7 seed in the tournament after winning Saturday, coupled with Tennessee’s 64-62 win over Missouri.
Vanderbilt (14-16, 8-10) beat visiting South Carolina 74-64 on Saturday. The Commodores have won four of their past five games – wins over Mississippi State, Georgia, Auburn and the Gamecocks and a 66-40 loss at Florida on Wednesday.
Arkansas and Vandy last met in the SEC Tournament in 2008 when the Razorbacks pulled out an 81-75 victory in the first round.