News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 19, 2014

Sycamores eliminated from NIT by Razorbacks

VIDEO: Jake Odum, Greg Lansing, Dawon Cummings

Todd Golden
The Tribune-Star

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas averages 80.2 points per game so it stands to reason the Razorbacks had scorers to worry about.

Rashad Madden, Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls all average double figures for the Hogs. Coty Clarke isn’t far behind.

Meanwhile, sophomore guard Anthlon Bell dwells in sixth-place on the Arkansas scoring list. On Tuesday, however, he came out of the shadows, much to the chagrin of Indiana State.

Bell scored 28 points — 18 in the first half — and the Sycamores couldn’t compensate, especially once the Hogs’ usual scorers got untracked in the second half. Arkansas ended ISU’s men’s basketball season with a 91-71 victory in the National Invitation Tournament.

The loss by the Sycamores means Jake Odum’s storied career has come to an end. He scored 11 in his final game. Manny Arop led ISU with 12 points. Arop, Dawon Cummings and Lucas Eitel also played their final games at ISU.

Bell — who made just four starts this season — had just seven games in double figures this season, but notably, three of them were in Arkansas’ last six games, including 23 against Mississippi on March 5. He scored the first 10 points for the Razorbacks and never stopped rolling.

"With a shooter like that, we probably should've tried to get him out of his rhythm earlier. You get a shooter going like that, no matter how hard you defend, and he's going to make it tough on you," Cummings said.

Bell was 11 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 from 3-point range, but was 7 of 9 overall and 4 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half. Many of his shots were on open looks as ISU played off of him early.

"We probably gave him too much room, but we knew he was a tough shooter. Tough shooters make tough shots sometimes and he was locked in from the get-go," Odum said.

Arkansas' size gave the Sycamores problems too. The Razorbacks had six blocked shots, but altered many more. The Sycamores went to the basket tentative at times and never gained the confidence necessary to finish in the paint.

"They're long and athletic and they have quickness coming from behind, but I thought we worred about it too much to tell you the truth. We had chances with just straight layups and we missed a lot of easy ones. We could've finished better," Lansing said.

Bell’s surge made up for the fact that the feared Arkansas press didn’t give the Sycamores very much trouble, but ISU fell behind 13-4 as it struggled to find its feet offensively, but ISU didn’t crumple.

A 7-0 ISU run cut Arkansas’ lead to 13-11 and it remained close for the rest of the half. ISU did an excellent job on Hogs’ leading scorers Madden and Portis. They combined for five points in the first half.

After Arkansas took a 25-17 lead, ISU responded with a 12-4 run to tie the game at 29 with 2:18 left in the half. ISU finally began to assert itself inside after struggling to finish shots and avoid Arkansas’ shot blockers early in the contest.

Arkansas led 37-31 at halftime, and even though ISU mistakes gave the Hogs the 4-0 half-ending run they need to boost their margin, ISU was very much in the game.

But ISU’s defense gave way after the break and it played as big a role in ISU’s undoing as Bell’s early surge did.

Portis scored seven points in a row for Arkansas as its lead reached 46-36. Unlike the first half, the Sycamores couldn’t muster a counter-punch. Portis’s last bucket started a 10-0 run that put Arkansas up 54-36.

"We were able to take advantage of some matchups we wanted to exploit," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.

ISU hung around and seemed to give itself a chance when it cut its deficit to 69-61 with 6:15 left on an Odum 3-pointer. Arkansas thundered back with a 20-3 run to emphatically clinch the victory.

Lansing was concerned from the time he saw the draw that ISU might be in over its head.

"It's a very difficult team to prepare for in one day and they wore us down in the second half. I admire how they play and how hard they play," Lansing said.

Arkansas (22-11) will next play the winner of tonight’s Utah Valley-California contest. ISU finished its season at 23-11.

INDIANA STATE (71) -- Gant 3-12 1-2 9, Kitchell 0-5 0-0 0, Arop 4-7 3-3 12, Cummings 4-9 2-3 11, Odum 3-9 3-4 11, Eitel 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 1-5 4-4 6, Moore 3-8 0-0 6, Burnett 2-3 2-3 6, Smith 4-9 2-2 10, Bell 0-0 0-0 0. 24-68 FG, 17-21 FT, 71 TP.

ARKANSAS (91) -- Clarke 2-10 6-6 10, Portis 3-13 4-5 10, Madden 4-7 3-4 11, Bell 11-13 0-1 28, Gulley 0-2 1-2 1, Wade 1-2 0-0 3, Harris 5-9 3-4 13, Scott 1-2 0-0 2, Haydar 0-0 0-0 0, Watkins 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Wagner 0-0 0-0 0, Qualls 4-5 2-4 11, Kingsley 0-1 0-0 0. 32-65 FG, 19-26 FT, 91 TP.

Halftime -- UA 37-31. 3-point goals -- ISU 6-19 (Gant 2-4, Odum 2-4, Cummings 1-3, Arop 1-2, Smith 0-3, Eitel 0-1, Brown 0-1, Burnett 0-1); UA 8-17 (Bell 6-8, Wade 1-2, Qualls 1-2, Clarke 0-3, Portis 0-1, Madden 0-1). Rebounds -- ISU 32 (Cummings 8, Kitchell 7, Moore 4, Smith 3, Gant 2, Arop 2, Odum 2, Brown 2, Burnett 2); UA 46 (Portis 13, Clarke 6, Bell 6, Madden 5, Team 4, Gulley 3, Harris 3, Qualls 2, Scott, Kingsley). Assists -- ISU 12 (Odum 6, Brown 3, Gant, Arop, Cummings); UA 16 (Madden 5, Clarke 4, Portis 3, Gulley 3, Harris). Steals -- ISU 7 (Cummings 4, Odum 2, Kitchell); UA 6 (Clarke 2, Madden, Harris, Haydar, Qualls). Blocks -- ISU 0 , UA 6 (Portis 3, Clarke 2, Qualls). Turnovers -- ISU 12 (Arop 3, Gant 2, Odum 2, Brown 2, Smith 2, Kitchell); UA 13 (Portis 3, Qualls 3, Madden 2, Clarke, Bell, Scott, Haydar, Kingsley). Total fouls -- ISU 20, UA 19. A -- 7,096.

Next -- Arkansas (22-11) faces the winner of Wednesday's California-Utah Valley game. ISU finished its season at 23-11.