Behind another stifling defensive performance that resulted in 14 steals and a season-high 40 points off turnovers, the Arkansas men's basketball team finished off the non-conference portion of its schedule on Saturday night with a convincing 104-71 win over UTSA at Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks will head into Wednesday's SEC opener at Texas A&M (9-4) on a seven-game win streak, which equals the program's longest under head coach Mike Anderson. The win also stretched Arkansas' home win streak to 23 games, good for a tie for fourth-longest in the nation.
"This was the final non-conference game for us and I was very pleased with our effort," said Anderson. "We're coming together on and off the court and the result of that has been good team basketball. Tonight we were very active on the defensive end and were able to set the tone early."
For the first time since Anderson's first five games at Arkansas, the Razorbacks have now come away with double figure steals in three straight games and over the seven-game win streak have forced their opponents into 142 turnovers compared to just 138 made field goals. Arkansas forced the Roadrunners into 28 turnovers, which was also a season-best for the Razorbacks, and improved to 19-1 under Anderson when forcing 20+ miscues.
The top scoring (87.2) and assist (17.2) team in the SEC, Arkansas more than hit its season averages in both categories with their third 100-point performance of the seven-game win streak, marking the first time since 2000-01 an Arkansas team has scored 100 points three times in a season. Arkansas passed out 24 assists on its 40 made field goals with just seven turnovers, finishing with a 50 percent (40-80) clip from the field.
The SEC-leading third 100-point attack was led by freshman Bobby Portis's second double-double of the season that featured 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Portis finished a perfect 8-of-8 from the field to stretch his double figure streak to nine games, the longest streak by a Razorback this season. Joining Portis in double figures was junior Rashad Madden with 15 points, including 11 in the first half, and sophomore Michael Qualls, who added 11 points, five rebounds and a team-high four assists.
Entering the game with a streak of 115:55 without trailing at home, Madden made sure that streak was 40 minutes longer, as he scored nine points in the opening 2:43 to jumpstart a 16-4 lead before the first media timeout. The double figure lead, which the Razorbacks held for exactly 36 of the 40 minutes, disappeared for just over a minute before a 17-4 run midway through the half made it a 44-21 score with 7:47 to play.
Arkansas was ultra-efficient in the first half, shooting 50 percent (23-46), passing out 15 assists with two turnovers and turning 15 UTSA turnovers into 22 points. The aforementioned stats resulted in a season-high 62 first half points and a 62-35 lead at the break. The Razorbacks are now 10-0 when leading at the half this season.
UTSA (4-9) was led by Devon Agusi's 20 points, while two others reached double figures. The Roadrunners connected on 41 percent (23-56) from the field, while they gave up 100 points in regulation for the first time under head coach Brooks Thompson (8th season).
Wednesday's game at Texas A&M can be seen live on Fox Sports Net with tip slated for 8 p.m. For more information on Arkansas basketball and behind-the-scenes images and video from its SEC road-opening trip, follow @RazorbackMBB on Twitter.