Weakened by illness, No. 25 Arkansas strong enough vs. Iona
Arkansas shook off a stomach bug — and Iona.
Multiple players were ill as a stomach bug made its way through the team and senior starter Alandise Harris didn’t play after injuring his foot Friday night.
But the No. 25 Razorbacks still beat Iona 94-77 on Sunday to improve to 6-0 for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Arkansas won its 11th straight game at Bud Walton Arena.
Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell each scored 20 points while playing through illnesses. Qualls had 15 points in the second half, helping the Razorbacks pull away.
Qualls made three 3-pointers in the final 10:12 to help spark a 17-4 Arkansas run that put the game away. He also had nine rebounds.
”He was hurting a little bit,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ”That just tells you his heart. He didn’t want to let his team down. He probably played more minutes than he ever played. I guess it’s something that guys get sick and have career days. He almost had a double-double. He played well.”
In addition to his offense, Qualls was a defensive star for the Razorbacks. He had an acrobatic one-handed steal while falling out of bounds late in the game and helped shut down Iona guard A.J. English after a defensive adjustment at halftime.
English made 6 of 8 field goal attempts in the first half and scored 19 of his 25 points before halftime. After Arkansas put Qualls on the guard, English didn’t attempt a field goal for more than 12 minutes to begin the second half.
”Sometimes when you are sick you get more focused,” Anderson said. ”He was more zoned in. He was really zoned in on the defensive side of the ball as well as the offensive side of the ball.”
David Laury added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Gaels (4-2). Iona led by eight points in the first half, but Arkansas battled back to lead 44-40 at halftime.
The game was tied eight times and the teams exchanged the lead 11 times. Anton Beard’s 3-pointer with 10:58 remaining gave the Razorbacks the lead for good at 63-61.
Arkansas shot 49 percent in the second half and wore down the Gaels with its defensive pressure. The Razorbacks finished the game with 25 points off 18 Iona turnovers.
”When we finally got the lead with that little spurt that we had, we felt like we had keyed in (defensively) and it was hard for them to score,” Beard said.
The Razorbacks made 11 of 25 3-point attempts. Bell made five 3-pointers.
Arkansas outscored Iona 19-2 in bench points and the Razorbacks had 21 offensive rebounds.
”I think they’re a heck of a basketball team, I really do,” Iona coach Tim Cluess said. ”Their depth is really good. They’re relentless. They play with tremendous energy, but they play together as a group. To the end of the game, they kept sharing until they got the mismatch or the breakdown that they wanted to get. They were very good.”
Rashad Madden added 16 points for Arkansas, and Bobby Portis had 11 points and nine rebounds. Kelvin Amayo had 13 points for the Gaels.
The teams entered the game as two of the highest scoring in college basketball. Arkansas ranked seventh in the NCAA at 89.2 points per game, while Iona was 12th with 88 points per game. The game was played as part of the Global Sports Roundball Showcase.
Iona: Laury set season high with his 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Arkansas: Senior forward Alandise Harris didn’t play after bruising a foot Friday against North Texas. Harris is averaging 6.8 points and 3.2 rebounds.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
”Obviously, we don’t have the athletes that Arkansas has, so for us, we have to do every little detail right, and we didn’t do them long enough. But I give all the credit to Arkansas. They have a heck of a team.” – Iona coach Tim Cluess
Iona is only the second school from the state of New York to play a game at Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena. Syracuse beat the Razorbacks there 91-82 on Nov. 30, 2012.