JD Notae had a game-best 30 points, Chris Lykes provided 16 points off the bench and No. 16 Arkansas overcame a sluggish first half for a 74-61 victory over Mercer on Tuesday.
Lykes drilled a 3-pointer with 8:43 to play to give Arkansas the lead for good, adding two layups and five free throws down the stretch as Razorbacks pulled away from pesky Mercer.
Notae bombed in five 3-pointers and Au’Diese Toney posted a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Arkansas (1-0), which trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half.
James Glisson III and Kamar Robertson had 12 points apiece for the Georgia-based Bears, who went 18-11 last season in the Southern Conference.
Arkansas trailed 36-30 at halftime and remained behind at 54-53 after a Neftali Alvarez layup with 9:41 to go.
But Jaylin Williams blocked an Alvarez layup attempt to prevent Mercer from extending its lead, and Lykes turned the defensive gem into a 3-pointer at the other end to ignite an Arkansas push.
Notae turned a Toney steal into a jumper to extend the lead to four a little more than a minute later, and when Lykes added a layup, Arkansas, an Elite Eight team last season when it went 25-7, was on its way to a season-opening win.
Notae’s 30 points were the product of 11-for-26 shooting overall and 5-for-14 on 3-pointers.
His teammates added just one 3-pointer in seven attempts, leading to the Razorbacks being outscored 39-18 from beyond the arc by the sharp-shooting Bears.
All of Glisson’s scoring came on 4-for-5 success on 3-pointers, while Robertson added 2-for-4 to account for half his total.
Shawn Walker Jr. and Felipe Haase added 10 points apiece for Mercer, which got to the free throw line just six times, making two. Arkansas went 16-for-22.
Alvarez finished with eight points and a game-high six assists for Mercer, which had beaten Arkansas 69-66 at home in their most recent meeting in 2015.
–Field Level Media