FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) The top 3-point shooting tandem in the SEC had as many steals as they did 3-pointers for Arkansas on Tuesday night.
Dusty Hannahs and Anthlon Bell entered the evening with an SEC-best 32 combined 3-pointers in five games. The duo combined to knock down four 3-pointers Tuesday, but, more importantly, totaled four steals as Arkansas embraced a defensive identity and forced 25 turnovers in a 117-78 blowout win over Northwestern State at home.
The Razorbacks (3-3) scored 39 points off Northwestern State's turnovers as the Demons struggled mightily against Arkansas' up-tempo pressure. The victory was the highest-scoring outing in coach Mike Anderson's five years at Arkansas and the most points the Razorbacks have scored since a 130-68 win over Alcorn State on Nov. 13, 2009.
''It just seems like any time we come with the mindset of defense, I think you see us make great runs,'' Anderson said.
''I thought our defense was the energy and then I thought we wore them down.''
Hannahs and fellow junior Moses Kingsley each scored a team-high 21 points for Arkansas to lead six Razorbacks in double figures. Bell added 17 points, Jabril Durham 14 points and 10 assists, Willy Kouassi 12 points, Keaton Miles 11 and Jimmy Whitt 10 for the Hogs.
The Razorbacks went on runs of 12 and 15 unanswered points in the first half, the latter of which was predicated on seven quick Northwestern State turnovers and turned a one-point deficit into a 41-27 lead and effectively put the game out of reach. Arkansas led 54-38 at halftime, an advantage that ballooned past 30 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
''Our defense created some easy opportunities for us and we took the fight to Northwestern (State),'' Anderson said.
Zeek Woodley scored a game-high 26 and Ishmael Lane 17 for Northwestern State (1-6), which shot a respectable 47 percent but was undone by its turnovers.
The Razorbacks won in their first outing since a 0-2 trip to Brooklyn for the NIT Season Tip-Off last week, which included blowing a 17-point, second-half lead in their most recent outing as Stanford closed with a 21-1 run for a 69-66 win Friday. Arkansas' tenuous start to its season a year after going 27-9 and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament wouldn't feature a blown lead on this night.
''It feels great, especially when we all feel like we were supposed to win that (Stanford) game,'' Durham said. ''It's just a bad taste in our mouth. I still had that bad taste today, so I just wanted to make sure that I come out there with the right mindset.''
Hot outside shooting kept Northwestern State in the game early as the Demons made five of their first eight 3-pointers, which helped them string together an 11-0 run to take a 27-26 lead with less than seven minutes left in the first half. But turnovers proved to be Northwestern State's undoing as Arkansas raced back in front with the 15-0 spurt to take command.
''From there it was curtains,'' Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. ''Our guys just didn't respond like we wanted to. . I just was really frustrated with the turnovers. It's been a long time since I played with a team that has turned the ball over that much.''
The Razorbacks shot a blistering 56 percent from the field, thanks in large part to their 23 fast-break points, the majority of which came off Northwestern State turnovers.
Arkansas: Durham's five steals led five Razorbacks with two or more steals as the Hogs finished with a season-high 13. Miles, Bell, Whitt and Hannahs each had two.
Northwestern State: The Demons have lost all four games against Power Five conference teams by double digits. Northwestern State lost by 14 at Ole Miss, 19 at Arizona and 38 at Auburn.
ON THE RISE
Kouassi produced 12 points and nine rebounds, including three offensive boards, in 18 minutes off the bench in a larger role with sophomore forward Trey Thompson sidelined with an injury. The former Auburn player and Kennesaw State transfer made 5 of 6 shots.
Northwestern State will play at Baylor next Tuesday.
Arkansas will play at Wake Forest on Friday.