FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A career-high 20 points from sophomore Madracus Wade carried the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team to a 97-64 win over Mississippi Valley State Wednesday evening inside Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks improve to 5-1 with their third straight win, while the Delta Devils drop to 1-6.
Wade and fellow-guard Julysses Nobles combined for 36 points including seven three-pointers to lead Arkansas’ best shooting performance of the year. The Razorbacks shot a season-high 59.3% from the field including 47.8% from behind the three point line, and the 97 points was also a season-high
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson commented that he was impressed with the full 40 minutes of effort and productivity from his team.
“I am proud of our guys because no matter who was on the floor, they gave positive energy,” Anderson said. “We did a lot of good things tonight.”
Arkansas had a 17-point lead at half time and never let that cushion drop to less than 16 in the second half. The 97 points were a season-high, as Arkansas’ pressure defense continued to feed an efficient and quick offense. The Razorbacks led by as many as 34 late in the game when a 6-0 run pushed the lead to 91-57.
Bud Walton Arena reached its loudest pitch of the evening with 8:55 left in the game when freshman forward Hunter Mickelson athletically swatted away a Delta Devils shot, triggering an Arkansas fast break that ended with a three-pointer by senior Marvell Waithe. The basket increased the Razorback lead to 80-53.
An early barrage of three-point shooting helped Arkansas jump out to its early lead. After converting an and-one layup to give Arkansas a 4-0 lead, senior forward Michael Sanchez missed his free throw and an offensive rebound found him wide open at the top of the key. Sanchez launched from long range, sinking the first three-pointer of his career. Nobles knocked down back-to-back three-pointers of his own on Arkansas’ next two possessions and Wade made one on the next offensive trip to give the Razorbacks an 18-3 lead just over four minutes into the game on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.
Anderson mentioned that the 18-3 run to start the game showed a level of intensity that he had hoped to see.
“I was really impressed with their focus,” Anderson said of his team. “They brought their practice to the game.
Wade finished with 15 points in the first half alone, shooting 6-for-7 from the field including 3-for-4 from three. The Delta Devils cut Arkansas’ lead to three halfway through the first half, but the Razorbacks came right back with three more long distance scores in a 24-10 run. Wade’s final three of the first frame pushed Arkansas’ lead up to 16 at 43-27 with 4:14 to play in the half, and Arkansas held a 47-30 lead at the break.
Arkansas shot at a 67% clip (8-of-12) from behind the arc in the first half, the best display in a half this season. The 50 second half points were scored on 60% shooting, also a season high for a half.
Wade’s 20 points came on 7-for-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three point range and 2-for-3 from the free throw line. Nobles shot an efficient 4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-5 from three and 5-of-6 from the free throw line for his 16 points.
Freshman BJ Young tallied 11 points for Arkansas, his fifth straight game in double figures. Freshman forward Devonta Abron had his best games of the season, knocking down career highs for points (13) and rebounds (six) while adding two blocks. Sophomore Rickey Scott added nine points, five assists and three rebounds from the guard position.
Arkansas’ best shooting game of the season did not deter the defense, as the Razorbacks held the Delta Devils to 31.7% shooting for the game. Arkansas forced 15 turnovers that led to 20 points, and also tallied 20 second chance points.