Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
After spending so much time thinking about Arkansas' road troubles this season, I've finally come up with the perfect way to describe the feeling of a home victory in the midst of these road problems.
I'm actually kind of ashamed it took me this long, because it's almost a cliche in sports and something that should be more obvious, but it's very much like holding serve in tennis. In tennis, you're favored to win the points in which you serve, and you can't win a match without eventually winning points in which your opponent serves, which in tennis is called "breaking".
But holding serve is obviously very important, so while we continue to wait for Arkansas to break somebody, we'll enjoy today's victory over the Vols.
This was as close the exact type of game Mike Anderson has been pushing for the Razorbacks to play this season. A lot of different players got involved and played important roles in the team winning the game. The Razorbacks had six players come off the bench to score points while the Vols only had two non-starters score, and those two only scored 9 points total. The Hogs dished 17 assists to go along with 29 field goals, and collected 13 steals en route to forcing 19 turnovers - while only giving up 7 of their own. And enough players earned minutes that the only Hog to play more than 30 minutes was Michael Qualls.
BJ Young didn't start but still had a fantastic game with 25 points, 2-3 from behind the arc, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Marshawn Powell scored 12 and helped out on defense with 2 steals and 2 blocks before fouling out. Hunter Mickelson had a strong showing with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
It sure is a lot of fun to watch the freshman develop. This was Qualls' first start of his Razorback career, coming off a nice showing at Alabama, and he played well. He led all players with 11 rebounds, two of which were offensive rebounds resulting in his trademark dunks. The first was early off a missed Mardracus Wade layup. Qualls grabbed the ball coming off the rim and threw it down at a point in the game when the lead kept going back and forth. The second came in the second half when Tennessee was threatening to get back into the game. A Razorback missed a free throw and Qualls, who we all know is among the best jumpers anywhere, leapt over Jarnell Stokes for the rebound, then, with Stokes laying on the floor after missing the rebound, Qualls jumped back to the rim for a dunk. It was a big play that helped the Hogs maintain momentum and win the game.
Jacorey Williams also had a nice first half, scoring 4 points. Coty Clarke isn't a freshman but is a newcomer, and he fouled out in just 14 minutes of playing time but scored 6 points before heading to the bench. It should also be noted that Rashad Madden hit a big three late in the game that helped Arkansas seal the win. We don't condone the attempting of threes by any Razorbacks other than Powell at this point*, but he was ridiculously wide open, so, it worked out. But still, Arkansas, seriously, avoid shooting threes. 4 for 15 is not smart basketball. Restraint is possible. Tennessee only attempted 10 and they trailed most of the game. Also, if Arkansas attempts a lot more threes than the other team, fans have no right to complain if the free throw discrepancy is tilted toward the other team. If you shoot threes, you're not driving to the basket and picking up fouls, you're jacking lazy shots.
*Kikko Haydar is only 3 for his last 17 from three over the last five games. Is it time to wonder if his shooting legs are starting to hit the wall? He's played substantially more minutes this year than the last couple seasons. But he is a smart and hard working player with a 4:1 assist/turnover ratio, so by all means, keep letting him play!
So all in all, fun day. Bret Bielema addressed the fans in the first half. Bobby Knight was at the announce table with Brent Musberger and had a nice moment with Nolan Richardson before the game. Nolan was also presented with a portrait at halftime that's part of the NCAA series of portraits for all the national championship winners. Good times were had by all - except the Vols, probably.