Fast Break: Arkansas 80, No. 2 Florida 69


WHY ARKANSAS WON: Arkansas baffled Florida with a blistering start, scoring its first nine points on 3-pointers. It was part of a first half in which the Razorbacks — who have struggled from long range all season — made seven 3-pointers. The shooting success played a big role in helping Arkansas build a 39-16 lead. Arkansas eventually cooled off and finished 8-for-18 from 3-point range, but the performance was enough to carry the Razorbacks to their most impressive win of the season.

WHY FLORIDA LOST: Florida simply walked into a buzz saw in the first half in Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday night. The Razorbacks put pressure on the Gators with a hot start offensively and forced the veteran team into a handful of mistakes as well with solid defense. Florida mounted a second half comeback, but going 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) from the field in the first half with seven turnovers proved costly in its first SEC loss. The Gators finished shooting 41.1 percent with 16 turnovers.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Mike Anderson called it a “team win,” but Arkansas freshman Michael Qualls continued to impress in his second straight start by tallying 11 points and 4 rebounds. The guard showed off a solid mid-range jumper and even knocked down a 3-pointer. His biggest bucket came on a dunk with 3:41 left, though. It ended Florida’s furious 19-5 spurt that cut a 27-point lead in half. While Qualls couldn’t complete the 3-point play, his bucket all but wrapped up the win.

STAT OF THE GAME: Arkansas got impressive balance Tuesday. Eight Hogs scored seven or more. BJ Young scored 13 points to lead the team. The rest: Marshawn Powell and Michael Qualls (11 points), Coty Clarke (nine), Hunter Mickelson and Rashad Madden (eight), and Mardracus Wade and Jacorey Williams (seven).

STAT OF THE GAME, 2: No. 2 Florida became the highest-ranked opponent Arkansas has beaten since Feb. 1999, when the Razorbacks knocked off No. 2 Auburn 104-88 in Bud Walton Arena. It also became Arkansas’ first win against a top 10 team under coach Mike Anderson. The Razorbacks were 0-4 until Tuesday night.

QUOTE OF THE GAME: “It just shows us what we can do. Of course, we’ve got to take it on the road. But it shows the level of potential we have.” — Powell on what the win meant for the Razorbacks on Tuesday night.

UP NEXT: Arkansas will carry its two-game win streak on the road against Vanderbilt on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Razorbacks cruised to a 56-33 win against the Commodores in Bud Walton Arena on Jan. 12 and will try to sweep the season series. But the road has been a different place for the inconsistent Razorbacks, who are 0-7 outside the state and could use a breakthrough Saturday.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau