The Razorback men’s basketball team improved to an 8-0 record following an 85-72 victory against Abilene Christian in Fayetteville on Tuesday afternoon. Arkansas played the game without head coach Eric Musselman, who was absent due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
Associate head coach David Patrick — the head coach of UC Riverside last year — manned the sideline for the Hogs.
“I’m blessed to have been a head coach before so I wasn’t a rookie so to speak,” Patrick said in a postgame interview. “To be the head coach here at Arkansas was a blessing just for the day, obviously.”
Arkansas bucked its recently-developed trend of slow starts and began the game on an 11-1 run. Junior guard Desi Sills scored seven of the Hogs’ first nine points and finished with a season-high 18 points, shooting 5-11 from the field.
Junior guard JD Notae confirmed in a postgame interview that the strong start was a point of emphasis during preparation.
“We knew that this team played very hard and they’re very well-coached,” Notae said. “So we wanted to come out and at least match their intensity and play as hard as them.”
Notae added 19 points, becoming the first Razorback to score at least 15 points off the bench in three consecutive games since Daryl Macon in 2018.
“He’s getting better and better every game,” Patrick said. “We all know he can score, but I thought he made some good passes for us in the second half on top of his scoring.”
Arkansas never trailed in the game and led by as much as 22 in the first half. The Hogs took a commanding 47-31 lead after the first 20 minutes.
The Wildcats went on a brief run to bring the score to 77-68 with three minutes left to play. However, the nine-point deficit was as close as they would get to threatening the Razorbacks’ lead.
Freshman guard Moses Moody led the Hogs in scoring for the third time in his young career. Moody contributed 21 points and four rebounds in 37 minutes played.
“He’s not playing like a freshman,” Patrick said. “We don’t have to run a lot of plays for him, so for him to come up with 21 points is a testament to his hard work and our guys finding him on the perimeter.”
Moody has now scored in double figures in each of his first eight games as a Razorback. He is closing in on the school record shared by Isaiah Joe and Jesse Pate who managed the feat for 13 straight games in 2019 and 1996, respectively.
Following the victory, the Hogs will have a break and will get the chance to head home for the holidays.
“It’s to go home and enjoy your family, but be safe,” Patrick said he told the players ahead of their return to their hometowns.
Moody emphasized the importance of being responsible during the time off from basketball.
“We definitely have to be careful,” Moody said. “We’ve got to sacrifice for the greater goal and we can’t let our guard down now.”
After the break, Arkansas will begin an imposing run of eight consecutive Southeastern Conference matchups.
The Razorbacks’ next game will be away from home against Auburn on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.