Kingsley's 22 points lifts Arkansas past Southern, 86-68
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Moses Kingsley learned a trick or two while practicing against former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Bobby Portis over the last two seasons at Arkansas.
Kingsley certainly played like his former teammate on Friday night, putting together an all-around career-best effort in an 86-68 win over Southern in the season opener for the Razorbacks (1-0).
The 6-foot-10 junior from Nigeria had a career-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, five blocked and three steals - earning his second career double-double in 24 minutes of foul-plagued action.
Not bad for a player whose previous career high was 12 points as a freshman and averaged only 3.6 points in 10.9 minutes per game a year ago. Not bad at all.
''It was a privilege to play behind Bobby,'' Kingsley said. ''... I just tried to keep up with him and stuff like that, and all that stuff has helped me today and is going to continue helping me the rest of my basketball career.''
Kingsley's outburst came at exactly the right time for an Arkansas team desperate to identify playmakers after it lost six of its top seven scorers from last season's SEC runner-up.
And his performance highlighted a solid overall effort for the Razorbacks, who finished 8 of 15 from behind the arc - with junior Dusty Hannahs leading the way with five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points.
Anthlon Bell added 14 points for Arkansas, which is now 5-0 in season openers under coach Mike Anderson.
''What a performance by Moses Kingsley,'' Anderson said. ''Probably the most productive 24 minutes he's probably played ... He just had a big-time presence and impact on this game.''
Christopher Hyder led the Jaguars (0-1), who were 18-17 last season and 13-5 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, with 22 points.
Adrian Rodgers added 12 points and Chris Thomas 11 for Southern.
Arkansas led by as many as 20 points early in the second half, but Southern cut the lead to 62-56 when Rodgers capped a 9-0 run with his second 3-pointer of the game.
Kingsley took command from there, scoring six straight points at one point as the Razorbacks went on a 14-3 run to take a 76-59 lead and put the game out of reach. He also added an emphatic two-handed dunk that put Arkansas up 80-61 late in the game.
''The Razorbacks lost a lot of guys, but their tradition and style of play is still pretty tough to play against,'' Southern coach Roman Banks said. ''... You can't keep climbing a mountain and falling down against these guys, because they ultimately just wear you down.''
Arkansas led by as many as 19 points in the first half - taking a 39-20 lead with back-to-back 3-pointers by Hannahs.
The former Texas Tech player, who sat out last season after transferring to his home-state Razorbacks, hit three 3-pointers in the first half while scoring 13 points. He continued the long-range display in the second half and finished 5 of 7 from behind the arc.
Southern: Hyder finished 8 of 12 from the field and added five rebounds, five steals and a team-high four assists for the Jaguars, who were outrebounded 43-28 - allowing 17 offensive rebounds by Arkansas.
Arkansas: Senior point guard Jabril Durham led the Razorbacks with 10 assists. Arkansas had 21 assists overall on 32 baskets.
Freshman guard Jimmy Whitt is Arkansas' most highly regarded newcomer this season, and the 6-foot-4 guard bounced back from a scoreless first half to finish with 12 points in his collegiate debut. Whitt finished 5 of 12 from the field and also had a pair of steals in 26 minutes.
Southern is at Mississippi State on Monday.
Arkansas hosts Akron on Wednesday.