No B.J. Young, no problem.
Rickey Scott was one of six Hogs who scored in double figures Monday night.
At least not against NCAA Division II LeMoyne-Owen.
With their star sophomore guard serving the first game of a two-game suspension, the Arkansas Razorbacks rolled past the Magicians, winning 111-45 Monday night at Bud Walton Arena in their final exhibition game of the season.
Young’s suspension, for an undisclosed violation of team rules, was announced shortly before tipoff.
Coach Mike Anderson wouldn’t elaborate on the reason for the suspension, but he liked what he saw out of the 13 other Hogs who did play in the game – especially junior college transfer Coty Clarke.
Clarke, a junior forward, had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Razorbacks, who begin the regular season Friday night at home vs. Sam Houston State.
“That was one of his best games thus far when you talk about overall,” Anderson said of Clarke. “Even from the Italy trip to here. You can see some of these guys are getting a little bit more comfortable.
“We did a lot of good things. We shot the ball well. We pushed the ball. We attacked – 27 assists on 39 field goals. When you talk about the recipe when you’re playing up-tempo basketball, obviously possessions are really, really important. Forced 30 turnovers. We shot it 74 times. When you shoot it that many times, you’re going to hopefully score.”
And score, the Razorbacks did. Arkansas led as many as 37 in the first half, despite a little lull when the second team came in. That lead grew to as many as 67 in the second half.
Eleven Hogs scored in the game. True freshmen forwards Jacorey Williams and Michael Qualls each scored 15 points. True freshman guard Dee Wagner had 13 points. Junior guard Rickey Scott and true freshman guard Anthlon Bell each scored 11. Sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Only one Razorback – Qualls – played more than 18 minutes. He was in the game for 24, and delivered an amazing one-handed dunk on an alley-oop pass from Wagner that fans will no doubt be talking about at least until the next one. He also scored the final points on a dunk when junior walk-on guard Kikko Haydar bounced a pass to him off the backboard.
“The guy seems like he goes as high as he has to,” Anderson said of Qualls, who also pulled down eight rebounds and had five assists. “That’s a God-given gift. The great thing about it when you play up-tempo basketball, as you see the more we get into what we do, you’re going to see him get a chance to showcase that. His athletic ability is kind of off the charts. The thing I like about it is he’s humble. He works hard each and every day. He wants to be a tremendous player, and he’s got a big, big-time heart.”
Williams said Qualls brings energy to the Razorbacks with his high-flying feats.
“To me I feel like when he gets a slam dunk we’re already up eight or up 10 or whatever because the crowd’s into it, our bench is into it, and it sparks our defense as well,” Williams said. “He brings a lot of energy. We like Mike. He’s very athletic.”
LeMoyne-Owen probably didn’t like him too much – or really anything about the game.
The Magicians shot 25.8 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from the free-throw line, committed 30 turnovers and had long stretches were they couldn’t seem to do anything right. They had 21 turnovers in the first half.
Arkansas, which stretched its winning streak in exhibition games to 16, scored the first 18 points of the game and never led by fewer than 10 after that.
Clarke said the Razorbacks approach every foe – no matter their talent level – like they’re facing the Los Angeles Lakers.
“That’s what coach always tells us,” he said. “No matter what jersey they have on, what division, we just go out there and play like we’re playing the Lakers. We just got to continue to do what we do best, and bring the energy night in and night out.”
But it was clear from the get-go that LeMoyne-Owen didn’t have much more in common with the Lakers other than purple uniforms.
“Obviously with LeMoyne-Owen, they were outmatched. They were overly matched,” Anderson said. “They came out and I thought the nerves were really, really going. You could see that. They were throwing passes way over the guy’s head. But we had a little bit to do with that as well. The exhibition season is over with and now we can really start focusing in on Sam Houston State as we get ready to open up our season on Friday.”