FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas Razorbacks seldom found it easy going against Rod Barnes head coaching the Ole Miss Rebels from 1998-2006.
For the first half Wednesday night at Walton Arena it wasn’t easy for Arkansas with Barnes coaching the California State-Bakersfield Road Runners, either.
But after the Road Runners erased an 11-point lead before ultimately trailing only 42-38 at intermission, Arkansas detonated a second-half blowout running over the Road Runners, 95-68.
Arkansas’ final nonconference tuneup improved Coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks to 10-2 going into their SEC opener against 19th-ranked Tennessee at noon Saturday at Walton.
CSUB of the Western Athletic Conference falls to 7-8.
“A good win,” Anderson said. “The second half was much better than the first half. Our defensive intensity picked up and we got in a rhythm. Give Rod Barnes’ team credit. They wouldn’t go away. But I thought with our bench fatigue became a factor.”
Successive threes by Arkansas senior guards Daryl Macon of Little Rock Parkview and Anton Beard of North Little early in the second half ignited Arkansas’ second-half fireworks also featuring an 8-point spree by senior guard Jaylen Barford from 6:09 to 5:05.
Barford and Beard both had hot hands and apparently hot tempers, too as each was hit with a technical foul.
“I‘m going tow watch the tape and make sure what happened,” Anderson said. “I’m sure it wasn’t one-side but our guys got caught and you can’t have that. Guys get to jawing but there’s no place for that. We gave away six or seven points. We will address that.”
For the game, Barford scored 19, Macon 16 with eight assists, and Beard scored 15.
Off the bench, Arkansas freshman guard-forward Darious Hall scored a career high 14 points.
Senior forward Dustin Thomas scored all 10 of his points in the first half to keep Arkansas ahead at intermission.
“Dustin Thomas I thought was the difference maker in the first half,” Anderson said. “He was the one actually making shots. We had some wide open shots but we didn’t make them but in the second half we had much better rhythm.”
Arkansas freshman forward Daniel Gafford of El Dorado grabbed a game-leading 12 rebounds.
Although hitting but 3 of 11 from the field, guard Jarkel Joiner lead the Road Runners with 12 point while Justin Davis and Rickey Holden scored 11 each.
Arkansas swiping 11 of CSBU’s 17 turnovers in the second half triggered the second -half blowout. For the game, Arkansas outscored CSBU 24-9 on turnovers.
Shon Briggs game-opening trey rocketed the Road Runners to their 3-0 one and only lead of the game.
Arkansas fueled by successive Gafford dunks, answered with a 10-0 run capped by Thomas follow shot after a Macon steal.
Arkansas fans figured on the Razorbacks running off another rout like their last four lopsided victories over Colorado State Minnesota, Troy and Oral Roberts but after the Arkansas lead peaked at 11, the Road Runners battled just like Barnes’ Ole Miss teams used to do at Walton when he coached the Rebels against Arkansas.
Jarkel Joiner’s trey tied it 38-38 at 2:11 before Trey Thompson’s tip-in of a Darious Hall missed trey put Arkansas up 40-38.
Two Macon free throws with 17 seconds left completed Arkansas’ 42-38 first half.
Thomas’ 10-points first-half led Arkansas into intermission.
Thompson, the Madison native and 6-9 senior big man graduate of Forrest City High, provided a nice first half with four points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 11 minutes.
Barford sitting out most of the half’s final 7:20 with his second foul also hindered the Hogs. In the second half his 12 points totaling the game 19 points more than hindered the Road Runners.
Briggs was the most foul troubled with three at intermission and amassing his fourth with 11:52 left in the game and finishing with nine points.
Attention now turns to Tennessee.
“We’re getting to the conference race and we have to make sure we do our due diligence and take care of home,” Anderson said. “Tennessee is playing awfully well.”