FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas first-year coach Mike
Anderson promised a frenetic, pressing style when he took over the
program in March.
He delivered just that in his first signature win, beating Mississippi State (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) 98-88 on Saturday night.
Julysses Nobles scored a career-high 24 points and freshman B.J. Young added 24 to help Arkansas open Southeastern Conference play
with a win. The victory was the Razorbacks (12-3, 1-0 SEC) seventh
straight and improved them to 12-0 in Bud Walton Arena this season.
A season-high crowd of 12,200 watched Arkansas earn its first
signature win under Anderson, and it came in style. The Razorbacks,
who have only made the NCAA tournament three times since the
2000-01 season, scored a season-high 98 points and scored 23 points
off 18 Bulldogs' turnovers.
It was a scene similar to the style made famous by Anderson's
mentor, former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, who guided the
Razorbacks to the 1994 national championship with Anderson as an
"That was fun basketball for our fans to have a chance to watch
and enjoy," Anderson said. "So, when you ask the question 'Is
that the kind of basketball I envisioned,' yes."
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs (13-3, 0-1) lost for the second time in
three games -- with their lone victory in that stretch a
come-from-behind win against Utah State on Dec. 31. DeVille Smith
led Mississippi State with 25 points, while Dee Bost added 21 and
Rodney Hood 17.
The performances, however, weren't nearly enough to overcome an
Arkansas team with only nine scholarship players.
"Offensively, we couldn't contain their dribble, and they
jumped up and made shots from everywhere, lots of different
people," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "Then they
sped us up offensively, and we just didn't do a very good job of
handling their pressure."
Both Nobles and Young played like they had something to prove,
and it was no coincidence that both have Mississippi ties. Nobles
is a Jackson, Miss., native and Young's father is from Starkville.
Nobles scored 15 in the first half as the Razorbacks forced 11
turnovers and opened a 43-37 halftime lead. The junior finished 4
of 7 on 3-pointers, and he did so after averaging only five points
per game over his last seven games.
Nobles came off the bench in Arkansas' last game, but he
returned to a starting role against the Bulldogs. He ignited the
crowd in the first half with three 3-pointers, and his last trey of
the half gave the Razorbacks a 39-29 lead.
"It was good, because like I said, I've been struggling and my
team knows they need me," Nobles said. "That was a great game for
me and my teammates. They keep me going every day."
Young, no stranger to big performances in big games this season,
had his time in the spotlight in the second half. The freshman, who
scored a career-high 28 points in an earlier loss at defending
national champion Connecticut, came off the bench to help the
Razorbacks push their lead to 19 early in the half.
He did so with his run of 10-straight points for Arkansas,
including a pair of 3-pointers, as the Razorbacks took a 66-47
"It was kind of a personal game for me and Julysses," Young
said. "So, I think it was a great total team win to show the world
and our fans what we've really got and what we've been working on
all summer and all season. It was good to have it all come
The Bulldogs closed the lead to 11 at 79-68 after a trio of free
throws by Smith, but that was as close as they would get until the
Arkansas shot 57 percent (35 of 62) and led by as many as 20 in
the second half, and five players finished in double figures.
Michael Sanchez and Mardracus Wade had 12 points apiece, while Ky
Madden finished with 11.
Mississippi State also shot the ball well, finishing 27 of 52
(52 percent) from the field and hitting nine of 20 3-point
attempts. However, the Bulldogs' troubles with the Razorbacks'
pressure proved too much to overcome.
"I didn't think we could play any worse (than the first
half)," Stansbury said. "But I found out we could."
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