Portis leads Arkansas past Alabama State, 97-79
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Bobby Portis lived up to his part as the leading man for Arkansas.
Portis scored 24 points as the Razorbacks opened their fourth season under coach Mike Anderson by pulling away in the second half for a 97-79 win over Alabama State on Sunday.
Portis, a preseason first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection, finished 9 of 11 from the field for the Razorbacks (1-0). The 6-foot-11 sophomore was 3 of 3 on 3-pointers.
Ten players scored for Arkansas, which shot 56.7 percent (34 of 60) for the game and rallied after trailing early in the second half. Anthlon Bell added 20 points, while Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris had 13 points each.
The Hornets (1-1), the preseason favorite in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, were led by DeMarcus Robinson's 21 points.
The two teams were tied at 48-48 at halftime, thanks in large part to the hot shooting of Alabama State and Robinson, in particular.
The senior guard, who had 23 points in a season-opening win on Friday night, was 7 of 7 from the field in the first half - including 5 of 5 on 3-pointers on his way to 20 points at halftime. Alabama State was 18 of 36 (50 percent) overall in the half, 9 of 12 on 3 pointers.
Jamel Waters put the Hornets up 54-43 early in the second half, but Portis followed by scoring the next seven straight points as the Razorbacks took control.
He had back-to-back dunks within 10 seconds of each other, and he capped the one-man run with his third 3-pointer to put Arkansas up 62-54.
Alabama State was unable to get any closer than four points after that, with Qualls and Harris putting exclamation points on the season-opening win with thundering dunks.
The Razorbacks scored 27 points off 23 turnovers by the Hornets.
Robinson only had two shot attempts in the second half for Alabama State. Bobby Brown also finished in double figures for the Hornets with 14 points, while Maurice Strong added 11.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have never lost a season-opening game in Bud Walton Arena, which opened in 1993. They now have won 41 home openers in a row, dating back to a 102-100 loss to Western Kentucky in 1973 loss in Barnhill Arena.
Alabama State: The Hornets were no slouch of an early season opponent for Arkansas after finishing 19-13 last season. Alabama State returned 11 players this season, including all five starters.
Arkansas hosts Wake Forest in a difficult early season matchup against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Alabama State faces North Dakota on Nov. 26 to begin a three-game tournament at Utah.