FAYETTEVILLE - The story Saturday night at Bud Walton Arena was simple.

FAYETTEVILLE - The story Saturday night at Bud Walton Arena was simple.


It was just Arkansas’ night.


Almost nothing went wrong, and the few things that did were mostly meaningless, as the Razorbacks lifted themselves back among the "haves" of the Southeastern Conference after a 85-67 win over Tennessee.


Arkansas (12-11, 5-5 in SEC) shot 53 percent and held the Volunteers to just 35 percent. Arkansas won the rebounding game, the bench-points game, points in the paint and was superior from beyond the arc. None of the statistical wins were huge, but combined, they were all enough to dismiss Tennessee with prejudice, and ease.


"To me it’s not about what the score was, it’s that we played well and we did it from start to finish," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "Our defense was good, our offense was pretty good, our bench played really really well. That’s what you want to see a continuance of."


The most immediately visible of the Arkansas pluses was its defense. Or maybe just Tennessee’s ineptitude on offense. During two separate stretches in the first half, the Volunteers (11-12, 4-6) were 3 for their last 20 and 1 for their last 13. And that was despite 11 first-half offensive rebounds, which produced more than a couple chances within three feet.


Few of them fell. Instead, Arkansas was getting the luck. Freshman Jimmy Whitt, who had one 3-pointer on the season entering Saturday, made two. Willy Kouassi, in a spot-start, had his best game in weeks. And of the 10 Arkansas players who saw time, nine of them scored.


Manny Watkins, who scored nine points off the bench, said it was more Arkansas than Tennessee in the Vols’ struggles and Arkansas’ counter-punch.


"Definitely our defense. We got after it and you get after it on defense, you get stops, we’re able to run out of the stops. And, you know, we went inside. We played inside-out. We had a height advantage and we used it."


Arkansas scored more points in the second half than in the first, 49 to 36, but that was largely because its free throw percentage went back to the norm. The Razorbacks made 15 field goals in each half and four and five 3-pointers. Both halves total field goal percentages were greater than 50.


Tennessee coach Rick Barnes was exasperated at the whole thing.


"We defended ourselves yesterday better in practice than we did today," he said.


Kevin Punter tried to spark a Tennessee comeback in the second half. The SEC’s second leading scorer - he averaged 21.3 points per game entering Saturday - finished 24, including 20 in the second half. But the problem was he received almost no help. The Volunteers’ third, fourth and fifth leading scorers (Robert Hubbs III, Devon Baulkman and Detrick Mostella) on the season finished with two, two and seven points each.


"As a team we just continued to put way too much pressure on Kevin Punter and Armani Moore," Barnes said. "We need Mostella, Hubbs and Baulkman to give us more than they give us in games like this."


With limited scoring punch from anyone but Punter, Tennessee could do little to retaliate against Arkansas, which kept its balance. The Razorbacks built their lead to as many as 17 in the first half behind Moses Kingsley, who came off the bench, and Tennessee’s meager 24 percent shooting. The lead would reach as many as 24 after a 14-3 Arkansas run was finally finished with less than five minutes left.


Five Arkansas players finished in double figures scoring, led by Kingsley’s 17. Dusty Hannahs had 13, Anthlon Bell 12, Anton Beard 12 and Jimmy Whitt 10.


Arkansas next plays Mississippi State on the road Tuesday night. The Razorbacks won the teams’ first meeting in Fayetteville, 82-68, in January.


Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin


Is This Something You Might Be Interested In?: Kouassi started the game in place of Kingsley. Arkansas radio color-commentator Scotty Thurman said on the broadcast it was because of Kingsley’s technical foul last game against Florida. Kouassi had two points and three rebounds in nine minutes. It was the first game Kingsley did not start this season. Kingsley: "I’ve got to learn. I’ve got to learn how to not get emotional sometimes in the game. It’s about just getting the point across. And I got the point." … Keaton Miles (11 minutes) was the only Arkansas who played but did not score. … A fire began in a Bud Walton Arena suite a couple hours before the game tipped Saturday night. No one was hurt. … The Arkansas baseball team was introduced midcourt after the under-8 media timeout in the first half. The baseball season starts February 19 against Central Michigan at Baum Stadium.