Hogs han­dle Tro­jans in ex­hi­bi­tion match

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­back Re­port

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Likely emo­tion­ally fu­eled by the pregame cer­e­mony ded­i­cat­ing the Wal­ton Arena floor as Nolan Richard­son Court and brought back a host of for­mer Arkansas Ra­zor­backs play­ers and coaches, in­clud­ing last year’s Coach Mike An­der­son, the Ra­zor­backs of new Coach Eric Mus­sel­man stormed to a 19-3 lead over the Univer­sity of Arkansasli­t­tle Rock Tro­jans in Sun­day’s ex­hi­bi­tion game be­fore 7,384 at Wal­ton


The Ra­zor­backs then stag­nated while foul­ing too fre­quently with for­mer Ra­zor­back Dar­rell Walker’s Tro­jans cut­ting it to four be­fore the Hogs re­sumed com­mand up 35-26 at in­ter­mis­sion and ul­ti­mately pre­vail­ing 79-64.

It was the first of two

ex­hi­bi­tions both teams are NCAA al­lowed.

The Ra­zor­backs play their sec­ond one at 7 p.m. Fri­day host­ing South­west­ern Ok­la­homa State at Wal­ton.

Arkansas started fast Sun­day with a quin­tet of guards Isa­iah Joe, Desi

Sills and point guard Jimmy Whitt, and for­wards Adrio Bai­ley and Jean­tal Cylla.

Joe, the sopho­more let­ter­man from Fort Smith North­side, launched 17 of the small Hogs’ 35 3-point­ers and hit eight while scor­ing a game-high 35 points.

“I thought he (Joe) was awe­some,” Mus­sel­man said. “The 3-ball is some­thing that is go­ing to be ex­tremely im­por­tant to us; 35 at­tempts from be­yond the arc is a lot of at­tempts but that is kind of who we are go­ing to have to be.”

Walker also lauded Joe. “I told the young fella that he’s got a chance to play at the next level,” Walker said. “I told him he needed to stay in the weight room. And I told him he had to learn how to pump fake and put that ball on the floor two or three hard drib­bles and raise up and shoot it. Once he does that, he’s gonna have a chance, a le­git­i­mate chance. He’s on the NBA’S radar al­ready.

Cylla, Sun­day’s tallest starter at only 6-7 and a grad­u­ate trans­fer Mus­sel­man re­cruited post North Carolina-wilm­ing­ton, scored 13 points with six re­bounds and hit 1 of 5 treys.

Sopho­more let­ter­man Sills of Jones­boro hit 2 of 7 treys while scor­ing 12 points.

Bai­ley, eight points, in­clud­ing a spec­tac­u­lar tip-in of a Joe missed long three, and Whitt, “as good, if not the best re­bound­ing point guard in the na­tion,” Mus­sel­man said of the grad­u­ate trans­fer via SMU who be­gan his col­le­giate ca­reer un­der An­der­son at Arkansas, led Ra­zor­backs re­bound­ers with nine.

The Ra­zor­backs got some help off the bench but were fre­quent foulers send­ing the Tro­jans to the line 30 times.

“We’ve got to clean up our foul­ing,” Mus­sel­man said. “We did want to be phys­i­cal and kind of be a team that played with phys­i­cal­ity, but we’ve got to clean up and play with­out foul­ing.

Lit­tle Rock couldn’t take ad­van­tage, hit­ting only 13 of 30 free­bies.

“Like I told my guys,” Walker said, “’You’re on the road and the of­fi­cials put you on the free-throw line 30 times, that’s on you to make the free throws.’ Hey we didn’t shoot well last year from the free-throw line.

And God knows we spent a lot of time shoot­ing free throws ev­ery day. I mean, just time and time we shoot free throws. My goal is to shoot be­tween 70 and 72 per­cent from the free-throw line. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

Both Mus­sel­man and Walker, get­ting a nice hand on his pregame in­tro­duc­tion hav­ing been an All-amer­i­can for for­mer Coach Ed­die Sut­ton’s Ra­zor­backs, cred­ited the Tro­jans for their first-half come­back and out­re­bound­ing the Hogs 42-37.

“Ob­vi­ously there are things we need to work on,” Mus­sel­man said. “Post de­fense and re­bound­ing the bas­ket­ball. Turnovers (11 in the first half and seven in the sec­ond) we did a much bet­ter job in the sec­ond half.”

Lit­tle Rock was led by

6-10 big man Nikola Mariu scor­ing 14 points with nine boards and the 13-point/11re­bound dou­ble-dou­ble by 6-7 for­ward Ka­mani John­son.

Mus­sel­man, em­brac­ing Arkansas’ bas­ket­ball past since ar­riv­ing af­ter coach­ing the Univer­sity of Ne­vada and a long ten­ure in the

NBA as both a head coach and as­sis­tant, and Walker, a friend of Richard­son’s, both praised Richard­son and the pregame cer­e­mony.

Mus­sel­man was asked An­der­son, now the coach at St. John’s of the Big

East, re­turn­ing to honor Richard­son for whom An­der­son 22 years ei­ther played or as­sisted as a coach.

“Ob­vi­ously, with Coach An­der­son, I think it was awe­some that he and his wife (Marchi­eta) were able to come back and par­tic­i­pate in the event,” Mus­sel­man said. “I think the court looks awe­some. I think the ad­min­is­tra­tion did a phe­nom­e­nal job. Ev­ery­thing, even the lane I think looks bet­ter. The lo­gos that they put down, I know that is what the fans wanted. It’s a classy look the way they did it. Coach Richard­son, leg­endary coach. It’s kind of a lit­tle bit unique that the first time I step on the floor I look out there and (for­mer Ra­zor­backs) Todd Day, and Corey Beck, all th­ese dudes that I have in­cred­i­ble ad­mi­ra­tion for. I was just ap­pre­cia­tive that the stu­den­tath­letes and our staff were a small part of it.”

CRAVEN WHITLOW/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Ra­zor­back sopho­more guard Desi Sills makes a layup for two in a 79-64 win over the Lit­tle Rock Tro­jans Sun­day af­ter­noon at Bud Wal­ton Arena in Fayettevil­le.

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