FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- BJ Young's return to the bench sparked a return to form for Arkansas' leading scorer.
Young came off the bench for the second time this season on Saturday, breaking out of a recent shooting slump and scoring 25 points as the Razorbacks (13-8, 4-4 SEC) improved to 13-1 at home with a 73-60 win over Tennessee.
The sophomore's point total was his most since scoring 26 points in a win over Northwestern State on Dec. 29, and the scoring outburst came on the heels of a recent four-game stretch during which he had averaged just 12.5 points per game and shot 37.3 percent.
Young had no such problems against the Volunteers (11-9, 3-5), finishing 9 of 15 from the field and leading an Arkansas bench that outscored Tennessee 46-9.
"I have confidence that I'll make the next one all the time," Young said. "I had to step up today and make the big shot, and they happened to drop for me today."
Marshawn Powell added 12 points before fouling out for the Razorbacks, which suffered their only home loss this season against No. 6 Syracuse, and Hunter Mickelson finished with 10.
Jarnell Stokes led Tennessee (11-9, 3-5) with 18 points, while Kenny Hall added 14 and Josh Richardson 11. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Volunteers, which had 20 turnovers lead to 27 points for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas led 35-25 at halftime, scoring 16 points off 12 first-half turnovers by Tennessee. The turnovers continued to haunt the Volunteers to open the second half, when their first four offensive possessions ended in either a turnover or shot-clock violation.
"They did a good job of really pressuring," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "Whether they got steals in the backcourt or not, they did a good job of keeping pressure on the ball and forcing us to make tough plays off the dribble, forcing us to make tough passes."
The Razorbacks took full advantage of the miscues, opening the half on a 6-0 run and extending their lead to 41-25. Coty Clarke opened the run with a dunk inside, and freshman Michael Qualls -- making his first start of the season -- added an inside basket.
Qualls finished with seven points and 11 rebounds in a team-high 32 minutes for Arkansas, which fielded a revamped starting lineup in the wake of a close loss at Alabama on Thursday. Clarke also made just his second start for the Razorbacks, who are now 12-1 in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas, which has yet to win away from home, also won a home game in North Little Rock's Verizon Arena.
"I thought the injection of Mike Qualls to the lineup really gave us a high energy level," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought his energy was contagious, and I thought you saw it just spread throughout our team."
Tennessee remained winless on opponents' home courts this season, falling to 0-6.
"The road environment definitely had something to do with it," Stokes said. "These guys feed off their crowd a lot. When they get two or three turnovers, they get real hyped and you know they're going to get their press going.
"Going into this type of environment, it just makes it that much harder to handle the ball."
The two teams traded the lead 12 times during the early part of the first half before Arkansas began to pull away. Hall put the Volunteers up 18-17 midway through the half, but the Razorbacks followed with a 14-2 run -- capped by a pair of free throws by Young that put Arkansas up 31-20.
Young had 10 points during the run, including his first 3-pointer since a win over Auburn on Jan. 16. The Razorbacks leading scorer entered Saturday 0 of 13 on 3-pointers since that game.
The sophomore had no such problems finding his target against Tennessee, which played without junior guard Trae Golden, who strained his right hamstring in a win over Vanderbilt. Young was 2 of 3 on 3-pointers, scoring his 25 points in 27 minutes of action.
"He was focused," Anderson said. "I thought he was more focused on the defensive side of the ball, and that enabled him to really get scoring. Shooting, even for a scorer, is all about confidence. And he played with that swag."comments powered by Disqus