Devo Davis

Arkansas junior guard Davonte Davis shoots a 3-pointer during Tuesday's game against LSU. Davis led the Hogs in scoring with 16 points as they defeated the Tigers 60-40.

The Arkansas men’s basketball team got some retribution for its loss against the LSU Tigers in the Southeastern Conference opener, as the Hogs used a big first half to take down the Tigers 60-40 in front of a solid crowd at Bud Walton Arena on a snowy Tuesday night.

The Razorbacks had some bulletin board material thanks to a brash tweet from LSU sophomore guard Adam Miller, who also appeared to slap freshman guard Anthony Black in the face during an inbound play in the teams’ opening matchup.

Junior guard Davonte Davis appeared to take it personally, leading all scorers with 16 points on 7-8 shooting. Davis also took the primary defensive responsibility for Miller, holding him to nine points on just 3-12 shooting.

“It wasn’t personal for me,” Davis said in the postgame press conference. “It wasn’t for me, it was for Anthony. So shoot, I’ll do whatever it takes to back up my teammates and that’s what I did. I think he averaged nine in conference, that’s what he had, so we tried to hold him to his average or under. But not too personal, to answer your question. I mean I’ve done guarded better people.”

The Hogs got off to an impressive start offensively, but the defense was how they built a 25-point lead in the first half. Arkansas completely stifled the Tigers, holding them to just 14 points and allowing LSU to convert just three of its 25 attempts from the floor before halftime.

“Great first half defensively,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “I mean, you don’t see a college basketball game where you hold somebody to 3-25. We were extremely excited to play this game based on how the game went down in Baton Rogue. I thought we had a group that was really motivated the last 48 hours. And as we got closer and closer to tipoff, there was no external motivation needed. That locker room, I feel like, was extremely motivated to play this game.”

Davis was perfect in the opening period, hitting all five of his attempts for 12 points. Black added 10 points of his own with two 3-pointers and four free throws.

The Tigers dominated the beginning of the second half however, going on a quick 15-2 run to cut the lead to 40-29 with 14:55 left in the game. A pair of free throws from junior guard Ricky Council IV stopped the bleeding for the Razorbacks and a dunk from senior center Makhi Mitchell at the 9:03 mark got the boisterous home crowd back into the game. The Hogs regained their composure and withstood the run, never allowing LSU to come within 10 points.

Junior forward Jalen Graham played 17 quality minutes off the bench for Arkansas. Graham showed his veteran savvy by finding the soft spot in the Tiger zone defense and collected some easy dunks at opportune times, as well as adding some defensive utility. He finished with six points, three boards, a block and a steal.

Council once again had trouble getting to the rim against a long and athletic LSU defense, but found success with a drive and kick game to either shooters on the perimeter or big men lurking around the rim for easy buckets once the defense collapsed on him. He put up 10 points on just 4-13 shooting, but he dished out seven assists and picked up six rebounds in his 40 minutes of play.

“Ricky has, like, professional-level confidence,” Black said. “So we knew he wasn't going to come into this game thinking about last game. He just came in and handled himself well and just made a lot of winning plays and helped us win a tough game.”

The Razorbacks will venture out of conference for their next matchup as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. They will take on the No. 17 Baylor Bears, who are coming off a big win over No. 2 Kansas, at 3 p.m. Saturday in Waco, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and stream live on the ESPN app.

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