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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Bobby Portis made the most of his homecoming to central Arkansas.
Portis matched his season high of 24 points and added nine rebounds in a return to his native central Arkansas as the Razorbacks pulled away in the second half for an 84-67 win over Southeast Missouri State on Saturday night.
Portis, from neighboring Little Rock, was 9 of 14 from the field as Arkansas improved to 8-2 to start the season for a second straight year. He also had 24 points in a season-opening win over Alabama State.
Michael Qualls added 15 points, including a thundering dunk in the second half, while Anthlon Bell finished with 12 points — 11 in the first half. Arkansas shot an even 50 percent from the floor and was 7 of 19 beyond the arc.
Jarekious Bradley led the Redhawks (5-6) with 17 points, despite shooting 1 of 9 on 3-pointers, while Antonius Cleveland added 13 and Nino Johnson 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Southeast Missouri State is now 1-19 against current Southeastern Conference members, with its lone win a 28-21 victory over Arkansas in the 1924-25 season.
After trailing by as many as 19 points early in the second half, the Redhawks cut Arkansas' lead to 49-42 with a 14-2 run — highlighted by a pair of dunks by Johnson.
The Redhawks were still within nine points at 53-44 before Alandise Harris ignited the Verizon Arena crowd with a one-handed putback dunk of Manuale Watkins' 3-point miss. Rashad Madden followed with a steal and a pair of free throws, and the Razorbacks quickly extended their lead by to 59-44 after a layup by North Little Rock native Anton Beard.
Southeast Missouri State closed within 10 points once more at 59-49, but Qualls scored eight straight points at one point for Arkansas as the Razorbacks went on a 12-2 run to take a 71-51 lead and put the game out of reach.
Qualls had all 15 of his points in the second half, including his powerful dunk on the break to put Arkansas up 79-57. The junior was 8 of 9 on free throws, while Bell led the outside shooting attack by hitting 3 of 6 3-pointers.
Southeast Missouri State coach Dickey Nutt previously coached at Arkansas State from 1995-2008, and his brother Houston Nutt is a former football coach for the Razorbacks.
Southeast Missouri State faces a second straight Southeastern Conference opponent when it takes on Mississippi on Monday.
After a week off for finals, Arkansas plays its second game in three days when it hosts Milwaukee on Monday night.
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