Arkansas Basketball receives spark from Madden

Arkansas Basketball

Rashad Madden (Photo Credit: Gareth Patterson/AP)

Rashad Madden scored a career-high 21 points to help lead the Arkansas basketball team in an ugly 72-43 win over Savannah State Thursday night.

The win was the 20th straight home win for Arkansas (7-2), who has the fifth longest home win streak behind Missouri (24), Duke (22), Stephen Austin (22) and Florida (21).

The Razorbacks played the first half without leading scorer and rebounder Michael Qualls and led only 27-25 at the half on 10-of-28 shooting. Qualls was late to practice leading to his first half suspension.

But it was Madden who kept the sluggish Razorbacks in the game during the first half.  Madden was 6-of-7 in the first half, while the rest of the team was only 4-of-21 from the field.

Madden, who has scored in double figures five of his last six games, finished 8-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from deep. Freshman Bobby Portis recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Arkansas came into the game leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring with 86.8 points per game, but struggled to score against Savannah State in the first half.

It was a tale of two halves. Arkansas outscored Savannah State 45 to 18 in the second half.

Qualls, who entered the game averaging 15.8 points per game, returned to action in the second half and added seven points. But that wasn’t his main contribution; he also turned up the energy level for the team.

Savannah State trailed just 31-29 early in the second half but Arkansas pulled away and went on a 17-4 run to go up 48-33 and take control of the game.

Freshman Moses Kingsley recorded a career-high five blocks, as the team finished with 10.

The Hogs forced 19 turnovers and had a 15-7 advantage in points off turnovers.

Head coach Mike Anderson has to be filled with relief that Arkansas picked up the win and that they got their bad game out of the way against Savannah State. Hopefully, we don’t see another game like that this season.

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With this ugly win, there comes a lot of takeaways, both positive and negative.

Arkansas learned the value of Qualls and just what he really means to this team. They need him, no questions about it. They looked like a completely different team in the second half, with him on the court.

Then there is Madden, who is gaining confidence and earning the trust of his teammates and coaches. He’s emerging into the leader of this team, which shouldn’t be surprising.

On the negative side, senior Coty Clarke is not producing for team as expected. Coming into the season, he was believed to be the leader, along with predicted leading scorer and rebounder for this team. But he still is trying to find his role with this team.

Senior Mardracus Wade did not see the court for the second straight game.  Wade, who played every game last season, averaged 23.6 minutes per game, along with 6.5 points per game and 1.7 steals per game.

Arkansas will face UT Martin on December 19 in Bud Walton Arena.