GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks will attempt to continue their lengthy winning streak at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday night when they welcome the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners to Fayetteville for a non-conference showdown.
UTSA's non-conference slate of games has not been too kind, as it has gotten off to just a 4-8 start to the campaign, which includes a 1-3 ledger on the road. The Roadrunners come into this contest with some momentum however, after downing Cameron University at home on Tuesday afternoon, 64-56.
Meanwhile, Arkansas has performed very well by winning 10 of its first 12 games, with its only two setbacks coming during the Maui Invitational in late- November to California (85-77) and Gonzaga (91-81). The Razorbacks have since ripped off six straight wins, with their most recent triumph over High Point on Dec. 28 (89-48), their 22nd-straight win at Bud Walton Arena, which is tied for the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the nation.
The Razorbacks have defeated UTSA on all four previous occasions, most recently downing the Roadrunners in December of 2007, 67-42.
The Roadrunners struggled against NAIA opponent Cameron for much of their latest contest before ending on an 11-1 run to capture the eight-point victory. Even though they shot a woeful 29.8 percent from the field, they made up for it at the foul line by shooting 31-of-42. Leading the charge was Devon Agusi, who scored a career-best 28 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 13- of-15 from the stripe. Jordan Sims was also solid with 13 points, doing so on 3-of-8 from 3-point range.
UTSA's failure to dominate lesser competition was unfortunately not a surprise, as it scores 69.4 ppg this season for a lackluster -7.1 scoring margin. It has also been hindered by its mounting turnover problem, as it coughs the ball up 16.1 times per game for a -4.3 takeaway margin. With leading scorer Keon Lewis (15.2 ppg) missing in action during the last two games, Hyjii Thomas (12.3 ppg), Sims (11.2 ppg) and Agusi (10.3 ppg) have to shoulder most of the load. The team has not been successful from beyond the arc (.316), but Sims has drained more than half the team's 3-pointers (34- of-92).
The Razorbacks had one of their most decisive outings of the season in their most recent bout, as they outshot High Point from the floor, 51.5 percent to 37.5 percent, and forced an astounding 25 turnovers on their way to the 41- point victory. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Bobby Portis, who poured in 16 points to go with nine rebounds and three steals. Michael Qualls and Moses Kingsley made the most of their limited action off the bench with 12 points apiece, while Coty Clarke and Anthlon Bell each netted 11 in the balanced effort.
The outstanding all-around performance was nothing new for Arkansas, as it shoots 49.3 percent from the field for 85.8 ppg, which ranks 12th in the country, while stepping up on the defensive end of the court as well in allowing just 66.2 ppg and boasting an eye-popping +5.9 turnover margin. The deep squad has 12 players who score at least 3.0 ppg, paced by Qualls and his 13.9 ppg on 55.9 percent shooting. Portis (12.3 ppg) shoots an identical percentage as Qualls and grabs a team-best 5.9 rpg, while Alandise Harris rounds out the double-digit scorers with 10.8 ppg.
With Arkansas pretty much unbeatable at home and UTSA struggling this season even against lower-level competition, the writing is on the wall in this one. The Razorbacks could put the Roadrunners away by intermission.
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