The Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) secured a win against the Ole Miss Rebels (8-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Both teams entered the game coming off back-to-back wins, with Arkansas seeking its first three-game conference winning streak under head coach Eric Musselman.
Early in the first half it appeared the Razorbacks had reverted to the gameplay that caused them to struggle with top teams, as early turnovers and missed shots at the rim allowed Ole Miss to go on an early run.
A couple of 3-pointers from junior guard Desi Sills and senior guard Jalen Tate brought the Hogs back into the game. From there, the defense and freshman guard Davonte Davis helped carry Arkansas to a 37-25 lead at halftime.
Freshman guard Moses Moody drew a charge then blocked a shot on consecutive Ole Miss possessions. Redshirt sophomore center Connor Vanover was also able to rip the ball from the hands of an Ole Miss player on two occasions late in the first half.
Davis scored eight points in the half, including six during a 9-0 run. Davis finished with 14 points, shooting 7-9. Musselman praised Davis’ performance during the postgame press conference.
“He’s so active,” Musselman said about Davis. “He’s our best loose-ball getter, he’s so aggressive...Devo can get by his man by his quickness basically anytime he wants to.”
The second half started even for the first few minutes. Vanover’s defense kept the Rebels from scoring early in the half, as he recorded two of his four blocks in the first few minutes.
“When we trapped I thought he did real good back there as a goalie,” Musselman said of Vanover. “He did a great job not only blocking four, but altering some.”
The Arkansas defense did a good job of limiting the Rebels. They shot 44% from the field, and made only one of 16 shots from beyond the arc.
“I thought defensively we understood who their three point shooters were and ran them off the three point line like we did last year,” Musselman said. “I thought it was the first time we looked like last year’s team from the perimeter.”
Senior guard Devontae Shuler, the lone bright spot for the Rebel offense, kept Ole Miss in the game. He scored 19 points on 9-12 shooting.
After the first five minutes of even play, the Hogs went on a 12-2 run that put them up 20 points, 53-33.
Arkansas never let the Rebels back within 13 points. The Razorbacks ate the clock and cruised to a 74-59 victory.
Junior guard JD Notae led the offense in the second half, scoring 14 of his 19 points after the halftime break.
“Notae, his shot selection was much better, (so was) his ability to draw free throws attempted,” Musselman said. “I thought he really just got aggressive in the second half.”
Moody, Arkansas’ leading scorer, struggled in the game. He was held to five points for the second time in three games. Despite Moody struggling, the Arkansas offense was well balanced with six players scoring over eight points.
“When Moses is denied, what that does is it opens things up for other players,” Musselman said. “So other guys got shot attempts because it seemed that they weren’t leaving Moses much at all. They stayed attached to him on the perimeter and that opens things up for the other four guys.”
Arkansas will play projected first overall draft pick, and former high school roommate of Moody, Cade Cunningham and the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The will be available on ESPN2.