FAYETTEVILLE — It did not take long for Arkansas to grab control of its last game before traveling to Las Vegas.
Seven seconds into the Razorbacks’ matchup against Florida A&M, Mardracus Wade hit a 3-pointer to take the lead and the Razorbacks never surrendered it.
Marshawn Powell led the Razorbacks in scoring with 21 points and Arkansas beat Florida A&M 89-60 Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena.
The junior forward added 10 rebounds for his first double-double since March 2, 2011. Powell said he did not realize he had a double-double until postgame interviews.
“I just played hard,” Powell said. “I try my best and don’t take a play off because I feel like if I take one play off, it will hurt the team in some way, so I just play as hard as I can and what I get at the end of the day is what I get.”
As a whole, Arkansas (3-0) shot well beyond the arc to start the game. Rickey Scott became the fourth Razorback to make a 3-pointer within the first ten minutes of the game and it sparked a personal scoring spree. The junior guard scored eight consecutive points over a three-minute span in the first half before Rashad Madden joined the 3-pointer parade and increased Arkansas’ lead to 36-18 with 7:07 left in the first half.
“Rickey has been given us some great, great minutes off the bench,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said of Scott, who finished with 13 points. “It just seems like he’s so much more assertive.”
Powell scored the first points of the second half with a thundering dunk, but the Rattlers made a charge to cut Arkansas’ lead to 11 points. The Razorbacks responded with a 9-0 run, however, to extend the lead to 64-44. Although the Razorbacks stalled at times, like scoring just four points in five minutes, Florida A&M (0-4) could not overcome Arkansas’ tough defense.
The Rattlers shot just 31.7 percent from the field and turned the ball over 22 times. Florida A&M never came closer than 20 points in the final 13:19 of the game.
“I thought Florida A&M came in here with a purpose and that was to test us and they tested us indeed,” Anderson said. “We had the game going in the direction we wanted to in the first half, but we came out in the second half, it went back and forth and for them to cut the lead to 11 points was a good gut check for our guys.
“We brought Rickey and Coty off the bench and they gave us some good minutes and before you know it, the lead was back to 20.”
Wade finished with 11 points in the game and made his first 3-pointer of the season with the first bucket of the game and made all three of his attempts beyond the arc.
The Memphis, Tenn., native led the Southeastern Conference in 3-point percentage last season, shooting 47.6 percent.
“Tonight we saw Mardracus look like Mardracus of last year,” Anderson said. “Defensively he was good and paid a lot of attention to (Jamie) Adams, their leading scorer. He did a great job in that department and we got him open and he knocked down some shots as well.
“Hopefully that will work to his confidence to where he can shoot the ball well for us.”
Arkansas will travel to Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Invitational. The Razorbacks will play Arizona State on Friday and either Creighton or Wisconsin on Saturday before returning home to play Syracuse. After Syracuse, the Razorbacks will host Oklahoma and travel to Michigan, making one of the toughest five-game, regular-season stretches Anderson can remember.
“The only time you play games of that nature is the NCAA Tournament,” Anderson said. “With that being said, we’re going to be tested often and presented with challenges. The most important thing for our guys is to stay focused one day, one practice and one game at a time. We’ll find out more about ourselves with these particular games.”