Powell put his studies to good use on Saturday, scoring 17 points as the Razorbacks pulled away for a 56-33 win over Vanderbilt.
The junior scored the first eight points for Arkansas (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), which bounced back from a season-worst 51-point effort in the 18-point loss to the Aggies. Powell also added 6 rebounds and 6 steals to help ease the sting of Wednesday’s disappointment.
“It felt real, real good. I’ve just got to stay out of foul trouble,” Powell said. “If I stay out of foul trouble and attack the basket hard and keep a positive attitude, then the sky’s the limit for us and we’ll get Ws like this.”
While Powell regained his scoring touch on Saturday, the Commodores (6-8, 0-2) narrowly avoided setting the school mark for scoring futility.
Sheldon Jeter had 8 points to lead Vanderbilt, which matched its season low for points and committed a season-worst 26 turnovers, leading to 23 points for the Razorbacks.
“Well, there’s not a lot to say,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We got our tails whipped, and I was real disappointed in our play in just about every way.”
The Commodores started slowly, hitting one of their first 13 shots, and never fully recovered. They were 3 of 15 from the field in the first half and trailed 21-11 at halftime — after closing with a relative offensive furry (5 points) in the closing minute and a half.
Vanderbilt finished 10 of 40 (25 percent) from the field, including a 2 of 15 effort from the 3-point line, and has now lost four of its last five games. The Commodores, who entered the game next-to-last in the SEC in scoring at 59.5 points per game, also scored 33 points in a loss to Marist earlier this season.
The school record for fewest points is 31 — set in a 33-31 loss to Mississippi State in 1982.
“I feel like I’ve seen a lot of first halves like that this year,” Stallings said. “With our team, we’ve struggled to score all season long.”
Powell, meanwhile, had no such offensive problems after being held scoreless for only the second time in his career earlier in the week against the Aggies. The junior hit all six of his first-half shots and finished 8 of 9 from the field.
“His versatility is big to our basketball team because he can score, and he can put it on the floor,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “Our guys did a good job of finding him early on.
“It’s good to see him to show up and play like he’s capable of playing.”
B.J. Young, after playing on eight minutes in the first half with foul trouble, picked up where Powell left off in the second half — scoring 12 of his 14 points for the game in the opening minutes of the half. The sophomore scored the Razorbacks’ first 12 points of the second half, putting Arkansas up 33-17 after dunk on the fast break.
Young’s scoring barrage helped ignite a 14-0 run for the Razorbacks, who led by as many as 27 points in the second half. Powell added a 3-pointer and layup following a steal during the run, which Ky Madden capped with a drive to put Arkansas up 43-17.
The Razorbacks were 9 of 10 from the free throw line following Wednesday’s 4 of 15 effort against Texas A&M. Arkansas, led by Powell, had 14 steals as a team.
Vanderbilt’s point total was the lowest by any SEC opponent against Arkansas since the school joined the league in 1992. The previous low was 42 by Auburn in 1997.
“For our Razorbacks team, I thought it was a good bounce-back game,” Anderson said. “I thought our guys played with a lot of energy, a lot of focus, and just defensively engaged.
“To me, that’s Arkansas basketball, just stifling and not letting Vanderbilt get very comfortable.”
Vanderbilt Commodores guard Kendren Johnson (2) reacts to an injury during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas defeated Vanderbilt 56-33. (Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports)