FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Rotnei Clarke shook free with a nifty crossover dribble and let one more 3-pointer fly. When it went in, he exchanged a joyful chest bump with a teammate.
For 40 minutes, Arkansas gave its fans a reason to feel good again.Clarke set a Southeastern Conference record with 13 3-pointers, part of a scintillating 51-point performance in Arkansas' 130-68 win over Alcorn State on Friday night. The Razorbacks were missing five suspended players after a tumultuous offseason, but the small crowd at Bud Walton Arena was on its feet from the start."I just felt like every time I shot it it was going in," Clarke said. "I guess it was just one of those zones."Clarke made nine of his 3-pointers in the first half as the Razorbacks (1-0) built a 71-26 lead. He broke Martin Terry's school record of 47 points, then eclipsed the SEC mark of 12 3-pointers set by Arkansas' Al Dillard.His last basket gave the Razorbacks a 120-49 lead, then he checked out of the game with 5:16 remaining."I haven't seen a better shooting performance than that, coaching or playing with anybody," said Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, a former Kentucky player. "It was really, really remarkable."Arkansas won only two SEC games last season. Less than three months ago, three Arkansas players were accused of rape. No charges were filed after an investigation, but Pelphrey said his athletes should be held to a higher standard of conduct. He suspended each of the three for multiple games, though he didn't say why.Two other players were suspended indefinitely for reasons the team wouldn't disclose.With off-court problems looming over the program, the estimated attendance was 7,700 -- a significant drop from the opener a season ago. The fans who showed up saw one of the Razorbacks' greatest performances. Clarke finished 15-of-21 from the field and 13-of-17 from 3-point range. He scored 31 points in the first half."The way he was shooting the 3s, I don't see how you can possibly lose him," Alcorn State coach Larry Smith said. "We failed to get him covered."Jemal Farmer added 28 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Arkansas, and Marshawn Powell had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Washington, who committed two fouls in the first 46 seconds, finished with 14 points."I think everybody had fun," Pelphrey said. "Good for those young men that show up every day early, ready to work, encourage each other, serious about going to school. Good for them."Clarke made his first seven shots, all from 3-point range. When he finally missed, a few fans in the student section started applauding politely, as if they'd just seen a pitcher lose a no-hitter.The crowd gave the Razorbacks a standing ovation at halftime, and Clarke received a small one after scoring his 48th point on a free throw with 10:21 still to play."He just could not miss," Farmer said. "It was crazy."Tony Eackles led Alcorn State (0-2) with 15 points. The Braves finished with five assists and 24 turnovers.Clarke played 34 minutes in the blowout. Arkansas was only expected to have eight players, but a couple walk-ons suited up to lengthen the bench a bit. Everyone had a chance to play.