FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — After going 1-4 in a five-game stretch against NCAA Tournament-caliber teams, Arkansas has reeled off five straight wins entering Southeastern Conference play.
BJ Young scored 19 points to lead the Razorbacks to an 86-51 win over Delaware State on Saturday in a game that wasn't close after the first media timeout.
The Razorbacks (9-4) held the Hornets (6-9) without a made basket for more than seven minutes after falling behind early, using a 34-4 first half run to take control of the game.
"At the start of the game they were running on some emotion and did some good things to us," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "We came in with some guys off the bench and our intensity turned up."
The Razorbacks' bench was short-handed with junior forward Coty Clarke missing the game because of a family emergency, but freshman guard Anthlon Bell made up for the absence. Bell connected on three first-half 3-pointers en route to a 12-point outing, scoring as many points as the Hornets' bench combined.
"Our guys did a good job getting the ball to him and he was out there a significant amount of minutes," Anderson said of Bell. "Our guys have confidence in him and that's going to be needed as we go through the season. People are going to target BJ and Marshawn Powell, so we need to have somebody to step up and hit shots for us."
Arkansas made 58 percent of its field-goal attempts overall, including a season-high-tying 10 3-pointers. It allowed the Razorbacks to set up their pressure defense, which resulted in 23 points off 16 Delaware State turnovers.
The Hornets finished the game shooting 38 percent, making only seven field goals before halftime. Casey Walker led Delaware State with 13 points.
"They put a lot of pressure on us and we weren't able to generate any type of offense," Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said. "We game-planned to limit their possessions and shorten their game, but their pressure caused us to speed up. Those 10 minutes (with only one field goal) cost us the ballgame."
Delaware State started well, jumping to an 8-4 lead in the opening minutes. But things quickly turned cold for the Hornets, who went 7:01 without a made field goal and fell behind 20-8 by the game's second media timeout.
Arkansas' early surge put the game out of reach and the Razorbacks led 43-18 at halftime.
"We brought energy," Bell said. "They wanted to slow the ball down, but we wanted to speed things up."
Since the tough stretch against Michigan, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Arizona State, Arkansas has won its last five games by an average margin of 24.6 points against a level of competition that has turned in several upsets against other SEC teams this year.
"When you have a young basketball game like we have, you can't afford to look at the name on the jerseys," Anderson said. "Hopefully that's where the focus is. I'm sure they see those scores (of other SEC games).
"These guys are trying to show they're a good basketball team. Every day we practice is a big day. Every game we play is a big game. That's the approach we have and that's the approach we'll have throughout the year."