Portis' 18 points lifts Arkansas over South Carolina 75-55
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Bobby Portis said earlier this week he preferred games in which Arkansas was ''blowing people out by 20, 30 points.''
The Razorbacks forward received his wish as his season-long domination of the Southeastern Conference continued in a 75-55 win over South Carolina on Tuesday night.
Portis had 18 points and 13 rebounds as Arkansas (17-5, 6-3 SEC) won for the fourth time in five games with the convincing win over the reeling Gamecocks. The sophomore scored in double figures for the 17th straight game, and he's also finished in double-digit rebounds in seven of his last eight games - with his rebounding total matching a career best.
After four straight games decided by five points or less, including a 57-56 loss at Florida last week, the win was exactly what Portis and his teammates were looking for.
''I think I want 30 now,'' Portis joked. ''... It does (feel better), because our last four games have been down to the wire.''
Michael Qualls added 11 points for the Razorbacks, who held the Gamecocks (11-10, 2-7) to 27.9 percent (17 of 61) shooting and scored 21 points off 20 turnovers.
Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 16 points, while Marcus Stroman added 10. However, the Gamecocks hit just 5 of 24 3-point attempts and 8 of 33 shots in the second half in losing for the fifth time in six games.
''They're an NCAA team, I don't think that needs to be even in the conversation,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. ''When you play an NCAA team, on the road more than anything, and you shoot 27 percent from the field and turn it over 20 times, you better be happy that you had a chance to compete in the game.''
After two weeks of close games, Arkansas led by double digits for most of the second half against the Gamecocks. Portis was 7 of 13 from the field, and the preseason first-team All-SEC selection has now scored in double figures in 17 straight games.
His last game in single digits was a six-point effort against North Texas on Nov. 28, also the only time the sophomore has failed to reach at least 10 points this season.
''The thing tonight that was great to me was more about the efficient minutes,'' Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. ''Obviously, he's been playing well, but the efficiency he played with ... He only played only 26 minutes, and he probably did as much as he's done in some of the other games.''
After trailing 6-0, South Carolina went on a 10-0 run - capped by an inside basket by Laimonas Chatkevicius. The Gamecocks eventually built a 16-10 lead over the Razorbacks, who - other than Portis hitting his first two shots - were 1 of 10 from the field to open the game.
Led by Anton Beard, the freshman point guard making his second straight start, Arkansas followed with an 18-3 run to go up 28-19 and take control of the game. Beard scored the first seven points of the run, and he also had four rebounds and a steal in a team-high 30 minutes.
''It feels good, but that's not really my role, just scoring,'' Beard said. ''I really try to do it all for them.''
South Carolina did close the lead to 33-28 late in the first half after a 3-pointer by Tyrone Johnson, but Arkansas answered with a 7-0 run and led by less than 10 points only once after that.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks played without forward Demetrius Henry and guard Justin McKie for a third straight game. Both sophomores also sat out against LSU and Georgia because of concussions.
Arkansas: Michael Qualls, the fifth-leading scorer in the SEC at 15.9 points per game, came off the bench for the first time this season. The junior entered the game having hit just 10 of 36 shots over his last three games, and his shooting woes continued as he missed his first nine shots and finished with 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
With the outcome decided in the closing minutes, Bobby Portis actually asked to be taken out with 2:26 remaining. The sophomore said he did so in order that freshman Trey Thompson could have some playing time. Thompson finished with one block in his time on the court.
South Carolina is at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Arkansas hosts Mississippi State on Saturday.