The Saline Courier Weekend

Hogs tackle Gators Saturday in Gainesvill­e

- By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVIL­LE -Arkansas and Florida have one thing in common as they are set to meet today in SEC action at Gainesvill­e.

Both Arkansas (9-6, 0-2) and Florida (105, 0-2) are looking for their first win in the

SEC. The Gators lost to Kentucky 87-85 in Gainesvill­e while dropping a 103-85 decision at Oxford on Wednesday night. The Razorbacks fell to Auburn 83-51 in Bud Walton Arena then lost at Georgia 76-66 on Wednesday.

Tramon Mark was a bright spot for Arkansas against Georgia. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a trio of assists and same with block shots. Mark talked about now heading to Florida.

“We’ve got to be more solid,” Mark said. “Like I said, our fight in the second half was great. We have to do that for 40 minutes. The whole time. We just got to be more solid on defense. More sound on defense. I think we’re still a good team. We’ve got to fix it. We got to fix it.”

Florida has balanced scoring with five players averaging in double-digit. Guard Walter Clayton Jr. tops the team averaging 16.2 points per game. Forward Tyrese Samuel averages 13.3 points and team-leading rebounds, 8.3, and steals 1.5. Guard Zyon Pullen is scoring at a 15.2 points per game clip and leads the Gators with 4.8 assists. Forward Alex Condon leads the team in blocks with 1.1 per game. He also averages 8.5 points and 7.2 rebounds each game. Guard Riley Kugel is averaging 10.9 points per game and guard Will Richard 10.7.

Eric Musselman knows his team needs to get back to winning, but is aware of the challenge playing at Florida.

“Yeah I mean Florida is a team that can win the SEC,” Musselman said Wednesday. “I don’t know what their results were tonight, which is irrelevant because I know how good of a coach Todd Golden is. I’ve known him for a long time. Not often do coaches have camaraderi­e.

I actually talked to Todd earlier today.

“They’re big, they rebound, they have great guard play, they’re wellconnec­ted, they play extremely hard, they play very very fast. You know, they’re one of the top tier teams in the SEC, there’s no question. They have an opportunit­y… They’re not just an

NCAA Tournament team, they’re a team that can win games in the tournament for sure.”

Mark scored 18 of his points in the second half against the Bulldogs.

“I didn’t try to take it upon myself or anything,” Mark said. “I was just being aggressive and I was rewarded with some foul calls because

I was being aggressive. I saw shots that I liked and made some of them.”

The Bulldogs scored 25 points off Arkansas’ 15 turnovers on Wednesday. Mark knows the Hogs have to take care of the ball much better on Saturday,

“Yeah, that was frustratin­g,” Mark said. “We had 10 turnovers in the first half, and 10 turnovers in the first half is unacceptab­le. We should have 10 turnovers for the whole game I feel like. That’s another reason we struggled going down in the first half. Like I said, we fought in the second half. We fought back.”

The Hogs only made 3-of-21 3-pointers on Wednesday. Mark was asked about the cold shooting.

“Not falling,” Mark said. “Not falling. That’s all I got to say. They’re not falling. Like I said, we got good looks. I shot 0-for-4 from three. My last three was a great look. I think I shot one that was kind of forced, but all the other ones were good looks. But the other guys like KB (Khalif Battle) and TB (Trevon Brazile) got great looks. Keyon (Menifield) got great looks. I passed to them in transition and we got great looks. We just got to make them. We weren’t making them tonight. Devo (Davis) got great looks.”

Arkansas and Florida will tip at 3 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

 ?? CRAVEN WHITLOW / The Saline Courier ?? Razorback junior guard Tramon Mark (#12) from Dickinson, Texas, drives into the lane against Auburn inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayettevil­le on Jan. 6.
CRAVEN WHITLOW / The Saline Courier Razorback junior guard Tramon Mark (#12) from Dickinson, Texas, drives into the lane against Auburn inside Bud Walton Arena in Fayettevil­le on Jan. 6.

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