The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Bud Walton Arena - Fayetteville, AR

Arkansas downs cold-shooting Mississippi State

1745 days ago
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Bobby Portis scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Arkansas used a stifling first-half defensive effort to defeat Mississippi State 61-41 on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (18-5, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) held the Bulldogs to just 2 of 21 (9.5 percent) from the field in the first half on their way to a 30-9 halftime lead. That included a 13:22 scoreless stretch by Mississippi State (11-12, 4-6), which missed its final 16 shots of the half.

Portis, Arkansas' preseason first-team All-SEC selection, finished in double figures for the 18th straight game. Anthlon Bell added 12 points for the Razorbacks, who have won five of their last six games.

Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs, who had their two-game win streak snapped, with 16 points and nine rebounds. Arkansas took its newfound defensive presence to an entirely new level against Mississippi State. Mississippi State recovered from its cold-shooting first half to hit 12 of 24 shots (50 percent) in the second -- finishing 14 of 45 (31.1 percent) for the game.

The damage, however, had already been done by an Arkansas team that challenged the school's 90-year-old record for fewest points allowed in a half. The Razorbacks allowed six points to the Fort Smith (Ark.) National Guard in 1925.

Arkansas had six steals in the first half, forcing 14 turnovers overall while building a 30-9 halftime lead.

The defensive effort continued a turnaround for a Razorbacks team that was 272nd in the country a few weeks ago while allowing opponents to shoot 44.5 percent from the field. Arkansas entered the game having held its last four opponents to a combined 41.2 percent shooting (93 of 226), rising to 201st nationally, and Saturday continued that defensive surge.

While the Razorbacks frustrated Mississippi State on defense, Portis continued to shine on both ends of the court. The sophomore was 8 of 14 from the field and finished in double figures in both points and rebounds for the eighth time in his last nine games.

Arkansas finished with 22 points off 24 turnovers by the Bulldogs.

TIP-INS

Mississippi State: The shooting effort by the Bulldogs was their worst since hitting just 17 of 60 shots (28.3 percent) against North Carolina in 2012. Mississippi State was 0 of 10 on 3-point attempts, its first game without a shot from behind the arc since earlier this season against Clayton State.

Arkansas: Michael Qualls, the sixth-leading scorer in the SEC at 15.7 points per game, started on Saturday after spraining his knee late in a win over South Carolina on Tuesday. The junior played 23 minutes and was 1 of 9 from the field, and he's now 14 of 59 (23.7 percent) shooting over his last five games.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State hosts Alabama on Tuesday.

Arkansas plays its first of two straight road games when it travels to Auburn on Tuesday.