Harris leads Arkansas past Utah Valley 79-46
FAYATTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) After one of its best defensive performances of the season, Arkansas feels good heading into Southeastern Conference play.
The Razorbacks beat Utah Valley 79-46 Saturday at Bud Walton Arena to close their nonconference season with an 11-2 record.
Arkansas’ pressure defense forced the Wolverines into a bad day on the offensive end of the floor. Utah Valley made just 29 percent of its field goal attempts, committed 15 turnovers and the Razorbacks finished with a 55-30 rebounding advantage.
”I thought it was a good defensive effort by our guys for the full 40 minutes of the game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ”That defense created some easy offense for us.
”We took Utah Valley out of whatever they wanted to do.”
The Razorbacks struggled to shoot the ball, particularly in the second half when they hit 35 percent of their attempts. Despite that, Arkansas never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in the second half.
”On the nights when you don’t shoot it well, what’s going to carry you?” Anderson said. ”Our defense carried us today.”
Alandise Harris scored a season-high 17 points to lead Arkansas. The senior added five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.
Harris made 5 of 7 field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, and 6 of 8 attempts from the free throw line.
”It was a good stamp to leave in the nonconference,” Harris said. ”We lost two games in the nonconference and we’re trying to take it to another level in SEC play. That’s why I had to step my game up because I know SEC will be a little harder. Everyone’s got to take their game up a couple more notches for us to do what we want to do.”
Harris had a breakaway dunk during a 15-2 Arkansas run to close the first half that gave the Razorbacks a 42-23 halftime lead.
Arkansas continued the run after halftime, scoring the first six points of the second half.
”Frankly, they are just too big and too athletic, and too many of them for us to get competitive against,” said Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker. ”I thought we tried and did the best we could.”
The SEC’s second-leading scoring tandem of Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls had 12 points and 11 points, respectively, for Arkansas and each recorded nine rebounds. Moses Kingsley scored 10 points in his first start for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas made 40 percent of its field goal attempts overall and was 21 of 25 from the free throw line.
Harris scored half of Arkansas’ 34 bench points. The Razorbacks were efficient offensively, scoring in 37 of their 75 possessions.
Donte Williams led Utah Valley (5-9) with 14 points.
Utah Valley: Senior forward Mitch Bruneel didn’t play because of an illness. Bruneel made the trip, but returned to his hotel room after going through warm-ups. Bruneel is the Wolverines’ leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks improved to 37-0 against unranked nonconference opponents at home under fourth-year head coach Mike Anderson. Arkansas has won 16 straight games at Bud Walton Arena.
Utah Valley hosts Seattle next Saturday.
Arkansas visits Georgia on Tuesday.