The Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team hosted a students-only event called BWA Live Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
The event consisted of a Red-White game and a dunk contest among players. Students got free food, drinks and the first 1,000 students to attend got free t-shirts. Approximately 2,023 students were in attendance and provided a lively environment for players.
“I don’t think that any of us expected to have that many people show up for a Red-White game when it was students only,” head coach Eric Musselman said in a post-game interview, “It was a really good atmosphere.”
Staff at the event made sure students were socially distancing and wearing masks at all times, which is how the rest of the games for the season will be managed. Fans will only be allowed to sit in chairs with tape on the back of them to adhere to social distance guidelines.
Four players kicked off the night with a dunk contest. Students in attendance chose the winner through cheers, and freshman guard Davonte Davis was the crowd favorite.The students chose the winner through cheering, and Davis was the crowd favorite.
Players honored former Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball players by wearing their jerseys during the pre-game warm up. Some former players’ jerseys included Michael Qualls, B.J. Young and Rashad Madden.
Starters for the Red team were senior guard Jalen Tate, junior guard Desi Sills, Moody, Smith and freshman forward Jaylin Williams. White team starters were freshman guard Khalen Robinson, junior guard J.D. Notae, Davis, senior forward Vance Jackson, Jr. and Henderson.
After the first eight minute segment, Red led White 17-14 as Sills led in scoring with nine points. At the half, Red continued its lead 41-31 as Smith led in scoring with 12 points.
After the third quarter, despite switching up the rosters, the Red team increased its lead 72-53 as Smith continued to lead all scorers with 19 points. Red won the game 103-67 with Notae having a game high of 24 points.
Musselman discussed the importance of Notae to the team and how offensively in the second half, he managed to score 24 points in the span of 16 minutes as well as having five assists and scoring well from beyond the three-point line.
“We led the nation in defending the three last year,” Musselman said. “And so any new guys who have not picked up the importance of defending the three with urgency, that’s going to get cleaned up.”
The Red team only had six turnovers Thursday night while the White team had 19 turnovers. Musselman said that turnovers are something that they will be working on limiting in practice.
“In the past we’ve been a team that’s been a low turnover team and we feel like that’s a really important stat for us,” Musselman said.
Razorback fans and players alike are excited for the upcoming season and look forward to what the team can bring to the table. Musselman discussed the importance of having a crowd to play for, especially for new players.
“It was great for all the new players to be able to play with the lights on, with a crowd, because it would have not been a great situation to go out and do that the first time when we’re playing a regular season game,” Musselman said.
Musselman encouraged students to bring the same energy they brought Thursday night to the Razorbacks first game on November 25. Their first game will be against Mississippi Valley State at Bud Walton Arena.