FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Sophomore BJ Young led the University of Arkansas basketball team with 25 points as the Razorbacks defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, 73-60, on Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (13-8, 4-4 SEC) had three scorers in double digits including Young, Hunter Mickelson, who tallied 10 points and a career high four steals, and Marshawn Powell, who added 12 points. Tennessee (11-9, 3-5) was led by Jarnell Stokes with 16 points. The Arkansas defense forced 20 turnovers for the seventh time this season.
"It was great to see us score points," head coach Mike Anderson said. "I have got to give it to our effort on defense. We had Tennessee on their heels. BJ and Hunter were the most focused they have been in a while."
The game started with a fast pace as both teams were looking to push the basketball. Arkansas had seven different players score its first nine baskets. The Razorbacks also scored 14 of its first 19 points in the paint. Tennessee had seven turnovers in the first eight minutes, but was able to take an 18-17 lead at the 7:19 mark of the first half.
The Bud Walton Arena crowd then welcomed new head football coach Bret Bielema onto the floor. It seemed as though the pep talk from the new coach would boost the fans as the Razorbacks went on an 18-to-7 run to close out the first half. The Arkansas defense forced 12 first half turnovers and scored 16 points off of those turnovers. Young led the team with 12 first half points on 4-of-6 shooting. Arkansas led Tennessee 35-25 at the break.
The favorable pace continued in the second half as the Arkansas defense forced four turnovers in the Volunteers' first four possessions. The Hogs came out of the locker room on a 6-0 run, with three assists on three baskets. Tennessee countered with a 12-6 run of its own as the Arkansas defense became sluggish. This led to a Mike Anderson timeout with 12:24 remaining in the game. The pace slowed and Tennessee started to claw its way back into the game, cutting the lead to 49-40 with ten minutes left. After the teams exchanged baskets, Powell was fouled and went to the line for two free throws at the 8:44 mark. He would split the pair but Michael Qualls, in his first start as a Razorback, was able to gather the offensive rebound and slam a dunk home that ignited the crowd.
"Qualls going in to the lineup injected energy," Anderson said. "The energy was contagious. He is a guy that can benefit our team with offensive rebounds. He plays the game the right way."
The Volunteers again showed resilience, quieting the crowd with a 5- 0 run, making the score 54-46 with 7:13 left. After the media timeout Powell scored on a post-up play and the lead was pushed back to double digits. From there, the teams exchanged baskets and the lead hovered around ten points for the next four minutes.
Tennessee cut the lead to 65-58 with 1:47 left to play but the Arkansas offense got back on track as Young stroked a jumper from the top of the key on the next possession to put the game out of reach. Arkansas defeated Tennessee 73-60 to win its fourth SEC game of the year.
The Razorbacks will host Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Phil Pierce: Arkansas Media Relations