ARKANSAS HOGS SMU’S SHOW

by Dan M | Posted on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

SMU.Ark

BY:  Dic Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Arkansas beat SMU Tuesday night in Moody Coliseum 78-72.  The Razorbacks showed a sellout crowd why they cracked the Top 25 this week for the first time in seven years as they led this game from wire-to-wire to run their record to 4-0.  SMU, which fell out of the Top 25 this week after road losses last week to Gonzaga and Indiana, saw their record fall to 2-3.

Arkansas took charge of the game early as they opened the game with an 11-2 run over the first four minutes.  SMU head coach Larry Brown lamented afterward, “We started off 1-9, with no assists and seven turnovers.”

Arkansas guard Michael Qualls said after the game that their plan was “get the ball out of (Nic) Moore’s hands.”  It made other players do things they don’t do all the time.  The Razorbacks accomplished the plan by pressing almost the entire game.  It’s a coaching axiom that road teams don’t press, but Arkansas has the depth to pull it off.  12 players saw action for the Razorbacks, while SMU played just eight.

The pressure bothered the Mustangs, as they turned the ball over 16 times in the first half.  “They imposed their will and we weren’t prepared,” Brown said.  “They were much more aggressive, better prepared, and they set the tone.”

SMU cut the deficit to three at 15-12 and again to four at 21-17 with 4:20 left until halftime, but that was as close as the Mustangs were to get on this night.  The game really got away from SMU over those last 4:20.  Nic Moore, the Mustangs’ best ball handler and Keith Frazier, the Mustangs’ best shooter each sat out the final first half minutes with two fouls.  Arkansas took advantage to run the lead to 11 at halftime, 33-22.

The Razorbacks started strong in the second half, as they extended the lead to 19 points (50-31) over the first 6:30.  From there, the Mustangs settled down to handle the ball better and play better defense.  Brown played two point guards – Moore and Ryan Manuel much of the balance of the game to improve the ball handling.  Manuel made some dramatic driving baskets and finished with 13 points, his high game of the year.

In the end though, it was too little, too late.  Five points was the closest the Mustangs got in the second half.

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said after the game, “I really felt that our defensive pressure wore them down.”

Bobby Portis, the Hogs’ 6’-10” center, led all scorers in the game with 22 points.  Qualls and Rashad Madden also scored in double digits with 13 and 10 points respectively.  Arkansas’ depth showed as their bench out-scored SMU’s 24-19.

SMU center Yanick Moreira led the Ponies with 20 points.  Moreira also grabbed a game high 10 rebounds to complete a double-double, his first this season and second in his career.  Keith Frazier had another fine game with 16 points and pulled down a career high seven rebounds.  Guards Manuel and Moore added 13 and 10 points, as four Mustangs scored in double digits.

The Mustangs play again Wednesday night at Moody Coliseum against Texas Southern.  Arkansas hosts The University of North Texas this Friday night in their next contest.

AND ALSO:

  • This was the 155th meeting between the former Southwest Conference Rivals.  That’s the most games Arkansas has played against any opponent.  The Razorbacks have won the last 13 meetings between the two, including six straight at Moody Coliseum.  The last game between the two in Moody was almost 20 years ago – December 8, 1994.
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