FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Bobby Portis is leaving little doubt about his standing as one of the Southeastern Conference’s best.
Portis had a season-high 32 points and No. 23 Arkansas beat Vanderbilt 82-70 on Saturday to improve to 2-0 in the conference for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
Off to their best start since the 2004-04 season, the Razorbacks (13-2, 2-0) have won seven in a row and 16 straight at home.
Portis was 13 of 18 from the field and also had 11 rebounds. He was three points short of his career best of 35 points set last season against Alabama.
Michael Qualls added 20 points for Arkansas, which scored 31 points off a season-worst 22 turnovers by the Commodores (11-4, 1-1).
Damian Jones and Matthew Fisher-Davis each had 14 points to lead Vanderbilt. Luke Kornet added 11, and Riley Lachance had 10.
Arkansas led 36-28 at halftime, with Portis scoring 11 first-half points and the Razorbacks finishing with 17 points off 14 turnovers by the Commodores — who entered the game averaging only 13.9 turnovers.
The Razorbacks led by as many as 10 points in the first half, and they matched that at 49-39 early in the second half after a 3-pointer by Anthlon Bell.
Vanderbilt, however, twice cut Arkansas’ lead to one point in the second half on dunks by Jones — including 53-52 after a thundering putback throw down by the 6-foot-10 sophomore.
After a pair of free throws by Qualls, the Razorbacks quickly forced a pair of turnovers by the Commodores — their 18th and 19th of the game — and extended the lead to 60-52 after a putback by Qualls and 3-pointer by Ky Madden.
Madden finished with eight points, six assists and three steals.
Despite shooting 66.7 percent (16 of 24) in the second half, Vanderbilt was unable to cut Arkansas’ lead to fewer than five points after that.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores entered the game as the top shooting team in the SEC, having hit 50 percent of their shots this season. However, flustered by Arkansas’ tenacious defense, Vanderbilt was only 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) in the first half before improving in the second half and finishing 26 of 50 (52 percent) for the game.
Arkansas: Portis, who is third in the SEC with 17.1 points per game, has now scored at least 20 points six times this season. He’s scored in single digits only once, a six-point effort against North Texas on Nov. 28.
Vanderbilt returns home to face Georgia on Wednesday night.
Arkansas is at Tennessee on Tuesday night.
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