FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Bobby Portis didn’t like the way Saturday’s game started after missing two shots in the opening minutes against Vanderbilt.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Bobby Portis didn’t like the way Saturday’s game started after missing two shots in the opening minutes against Vanderbilt.


So the sophomore gave himself a pep talk during an early timeout. It worked.


Portis powered 23rd-ranked Arkansas to an 82-70 win by scoring 32 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in front of an announced crowd of 16,049 in Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks’ leader turned in his best performance in the SEC home opener, making 13 of his final 16 shots after the slow start to help Arkansas (13-2, 2-0 in the SEC) outlast the Commodores and win its seventh straight game.


"He was the most dominant player by a significant margin on the court (Saturday)," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "We didn’t have any kind of response or any kind of answer for him. He had his way, and it didn’t matter which one of our guys tried to guard him. He just kind of did what he wanted."


Portis was assertive in Arkansas’ halfcourt offense Saturday, demanding the ball when the Razorbacks needed points. He was active around the rim with nine of his 11 rebounds on the offensive end. Portis even had a team-high four steals, including a pair that he turned into two of his game-high five dunks.


The 32 points was the most scored by an SEC player this season. It was three shy of Portis’ career high of 35, too, which he set in a win against Alabama last season.


"Words can hardly describe it," Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams said. "I keep seeing him getting better every day. It’s crazy because he works so hard and I see it paying off for him. Everybody is happy for him because he’s playing so well."


The Razorbacks needed Portis’ big performance against the Commodores, who entered Saturday’s game as the SEC’s top shooting team (50 percent). Vanderbilt had done a good job of protecting the basketball, too, averaging 13.8 turnovers.


But the Commodores (11-4, 1-1 in SEC) were out of rhythm early because of their carelessness against a team that thrives on mistakes. Vanderbilt had turnovers on its first three possessions, seven through six minutes and 14 in the first half.


It’s no surprise Arkansas capitalized, outscoring Vanderbilt 17-5 off turnovers in the first half. But as poorly as the Commodores played in the opening minutes, the Razorbacks still only managed to take a 36-28 lead into the locker room.


"We came out and delivered the first punch and to their credit Kevin and his kids responded the right way," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.


Vanderbilt cut the deficit to three points with a strong start in the second half, doing a beter job of getting the ball to forward Damian Jones (14 points, 7 rebounds). Then Portis took charge. He scored seven of Arkansas’ next eight — including dunk after stealing the ball from Jones — to help the Razorbacks push their lead back to nine.


"At that time, I asked for the ball," Portis said about his second-half success. "I wanted it. At the start of the second half our team was just shooting jumpers so I wanted to do something to spark us a little bit."


Vanderbilt still wouldn’t go away, though. The Commodores used an 8-0 run to cut Arkansas’ lead to 51-50 before Portis and the Razorbacks found a way to regain control once again. This time, Arkansas scored nine points in less than a minute.


Portis had four points during the decisive spurt, which was fueled by Arkansas’ pressure defense. He scored his final bucket a few minutes later on a dunk off a pass by guard Jabril Durham, making it 71-60 with 5:46 remaining.


"Our guys did a good job of getting it to him," Anderson said. "I thought he felt like he had an advantage and I think it is smart basketball to take advantage of that. I thought he played strong. He wanted it. He played strong and when the double and triple-team came, he actually just passed the ball to open guys.


"He was engaged in this game. No question about it. We know he has been having a tremendous year so far, but this performance (Saturday) was very outstanding."


Stallings described Portis as a "very complete player," but also was impressed by the Razorbacks’ talent and depth. He said Anderson has assembled one of the best Arkansas teams he’s faced during his 16 years as an SEC coach.


Portis certainly wasn’t alone in pushing the Razorbacks to 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since the 2007-08 season. Guard Michael Qualls scored 20 points, teaming with Portis to account for 33 of Arkansas’ 46 points in the second half.


Forward Jacorey Williams also gave the Razorbacks a lift off the bench with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 30 minutes. Guard Ky Madden added 8 points, 6 assists and 3 steals in 27 minutes.


Arkansas outrebounded Vanderbilt 33-27 and outscored the Commodores 19-6 on second-chance points. The Razorbacks also outscored Vanderbilt 31-9 off turnovers.


"You look up and three of your starters have five turnovers each, you’re just not going to win. You’re not going to," Stallings said about Vanderbilt’s 22 turnovers. "They were better at what they do than we were at what we needed to do."


And Arkansas had Portis. He topped the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season. Portis also recorded his third double-double after his early-game pep talk.


Portis said it wasn’t the first time he has done it after a slow start and Anderson approved after watching the rest of his performance Saturday.


"Just tell him to keep talking to himself," Anderson said. "He’s doing a good job."