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FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas went inside and often Saturday and senior center Delvon Johnson delivered in a big way.
Johnson recorded a double-double with 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, and added four blocked shots in a 75-60 win over Troy.
“All I was trying to do was whatever my team needed me to do,” Johnson said. “We were down at first and I tried to bring us back with energy.
“This is my last year as a senior. I’m not holding anything back.”
The Razorbacks (5-1) used a 13-0 run to close the first half and take the lead for good. Marvell Waithe’s putback at the buzzer gave Arkansas a 48-36 halftime advantage.
Clutch free throw shooting helped the Razorbacks stay in the game after falling behind early. Arkansas made 23 of 28 from the line Saturday, including all 12 attempts in the second half.
Arkansas hit 23 of 26 free throws earlier in the week in a win over Oklahoma.
The Razorbacks were whistled for a season-low 12 fouls and Troy attempted only six free throws in the game. Johnson, who has struggled with foul problems all year, committed only two against the Trojans.
“We were able to keep him on the floor,” Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. “He was a big, big factor for us. He was effective defensively, he was effective rebounding the ball offensively and that’s a big deal.
“We were able to gain an advantage and that was good because that has been a problem up until this week. Being able to play defense without fouling is a weapon.”
Johnson, who hit 6 of 8 free throw attempts, helped the Razorbacks extend their lead before the break. Troy center Bernard Toombs got into foul trouble late in the half. When Johnson found himself matched up with smaller defenders, he attacked.
“My game plan was to go at whoever was guarding me, big or small,” Johnson said. “Whey they had small guards on me, I tried to get them into foul trouble, too.”
Sophomore forward Marshawn Powell, who has been slowed with a foot injury, said Johnson’s play has been key with he and Michael Sanchez less than 100 percent.
“We really don’t have a lot of size when it comes down to the paint,” Powell said. “If he plays like that every game, there’s no telling how far we can go.”
Powell, a preseason all-SEC selection, scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in his most extensive playing time this season for the Razorbacks. Powell has been recovering from a broken foot suffered in the preseason.
“I thought it was the best he looked,” Pelphrey said. “I don’t think he’s too far away. He certainly helps us just being out there. He’s a calming factor and I think he just gives the guys confidence.”
Powell said he felt more comfortable by wearing a new pair of shoes during the game. The black hightops had a plate inserted to add more support.
“It feels good to be running faster,” Powell said. “It’s getting better and healing. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”
Rotnei Clarke scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Razorbacks, while Jeff Peterson added eight points and six boards.
Vernon Taylor scored a game-high 19 points in a losing effort for the Trojans.
For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.