NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Despite its struggles at Verizon Arena in recent years, Arkansas took care of business in North Little Rock and snapped its three-game losing streak in the building on Saturday.
Marshawn Powell scored 20 points and Arkansas defeated Alabama A&M 95-68.
Powell, who was injured prior to last season’s game in Verizon Arena against Houston, played just 22 minutes, but his impact was significant. The redshirt junior became the 35th Razorback to score 1,000 points in a career and was just four rebounds away from a double-double. Defensively, he shut down Demarquelle Tabb after he scored 13 of the Bulldogs’ first 20 points.
“Marshawn’s confidence continues to grow each and every game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “Isn’t it a coincidence that in the place where he got hurt, he came back and became a 1,000-point scorer? But if you ask Marshawn, he’s just trying to do everything he can to help our basketball team win. He’s trying to lead by example.
“With winning, a lot of individual accolades come and I think you saw that tonight.”
Tabb led Alabama A&M with 15 points, but fouled out with 8:37 left in the game after scoring just two points in 21:57 following the hot start.
“He’s a good offensive player and coach warned us about him before the game,” Powell said. “He just said play solid defense. It came down to who wants it more? Is he going to score more than me, or will I stop him?”
Arkansas also shot the ball well early, starting the game 7 for 7 in the first 4½ minutes and never allowing the Bulldogs to lead the game.
“Our guys came out with great focus,” Anderson said. “I thought our defense was really intact and we played with a lot of effort and a lot of energy. We played the game the right way. They were unselfish on defense and of course we made shots early on, but there was a reason we made those shots.
“A lot of them, we were in attack mode, pushing the basketball and sharing the basketball. There were some great passes out there where guys were making the extra pass.
“When we share the basketball, we’re a tough team to defend.”
B.J. Young had 13 points and a team-high and career-high nine assists, leaving him one dish away from the double-double.
“B.J. continues to show some of his versatility,” Anderson said. “He was a distributor tonight and at the same time, was able to create and score and did some good things defensively.”
Alabama A&M (3-7) cut Arkansas’ lead to seven points with 4:54 left in the opening half, but the Razorbacks went on a 10-0 run to finish the period and took 51-34 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, the Razorbacks pulled away and were able to give quality minutes to their bench. Arkansas’ reserves scored 43 points with Coty Clarke and Jacorey Williams each scoring 10 points.
“Some guys got some quality minutes tonight,” Anderson said. “Jacorey Williams, you could see the potential with him and he got the chance to showcase that tonight along with guys like Anthlon Bell and Coty Clarke, who I thought bounced back and had a very good game tonight.”
Arkansas (7-4) entered Saturday’s matchup 3-9 in Verizon Arena and 1-5 in its last six appearances in the building. Anderson said he hopes the Razorbacks continue to make the yearly trip to North Little Rock.
“The fans, it just seemed like there was extra energy in the building and our guys fed off of it,” Anderson said. “When you come to Little Rock, it’s an event. I was glad to see our guys come out and play well in a lot of different fashions of the game.
“I appreciate the Little Rock fans. It was a great atmosphere.”
Next Saturday, Arkansas will return to Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville where the Razorbacks will host Northwestern State.