ARK MBB 12/7/21

Arkansas guard JD Notae attempts to dribble by a Charlotte defender Tuesday during the Razorbacks’ win over the 49ers. Notae led the Hogs with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the contest.

The No. 12 Arkansas men’s basketball team moved to 9-0 on the season Tuesday after closing out an 86-66 victory with a 13-2 run over the Charlotte 49ers in Bud Walton Arena.

Senior guard JD Notae put on a show on both ends, earning a double-double with 23 points on 50% shooting from the field, 10 rebounds and four steals.

“They told us that this team doesn’t get many offensive rebounds,” Notae said in the postgame press conference. “That was the game plan, get on the defensive backboards. A couple just fell in my hands.”

The first half was tight for eight minutes. Arkansas struggled to get much going on offense and the game was tied at 14 with 11:52 on the clock. The Hogs turned their focus to attacking the rim, and went on an 8-0 run to take a 22-14 lead with 9:24 left in the first period.

Arkansas went out of its isolation-based offense and started to use senior forward Jaylin Williams in the pick and roll. Williams is a good screener and has great touch around the rim, and he used it to put up 10 points in the half to give Arkansas a 39-31 lead with 1:32 until halftime.

Williams did it all Tuesday, and he made the last basket in the half, putting the Hogs up 41-31 at halftime. The 6-foot-10-inch Fort Smith native recorded a steal and took it coast-to-coast with a slam to give the Razorbacks a 10-point cushion. He finished the game with a career-high 15 points on 7-9 shooting, to go with eight rebounds and three steals.

“I’m kind of just playing,” Williams said. “I’m doing what the team needs. I don’t even know my stats until after the game, to be honest with you.”

Junior center Connor Vanover started the game, but found most of his success in the second half. The skilled 7-footer fought through contact and used his size to give the Hogs four quick points right out of the break. He finished the game with six points.

The Razorbacks converted on back-to-back and-one opportunities to take a 56-43 lead with 15:41 on the clock. Sophomore guard Davonte Davis overcame some first half struggles and hit a tough midrange fadeaway through contact, and he made the subsequent free throw. Williams received a long pass right under the basket and put it up through a Charlotte defender’s arms to get the old-fashioned 3-point play.

The lead hovered around 15 points for the next 10 minutes. With about six minutes to play, the 49ers hit two straight 3-pointers in under 30 seconds to bring the lead to single digits. Arkansas called a timeout to try and stop the momentum. Davis got the ball in isolation out of the timeout, broke down his man, and got the tough layup to put Arkansas up 75-64.

Senior guard Chris Lykes used his speed to blow by his man and earn another and-one that put the momentum back on the Razorbacks’ side. Lykes’ layup, combined with a Notae layup on the next possession, put Arkansas up 79-65 with 2:36 left and gave the Hogs some breathing room to close the game out.

Davis has recently cemented his position as the point guard for the Razorbacks. He has led the team in assists in back-to-back games. His 35 assists are good for second on the team through nine games.

“I thought Devo played a really good game,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “He had 18 (points) and eight (assists). I thought Devo played with great freedom with the ball, for sure.”

Arkansas will take on future Southeastern Conference opponent Oklahoma in a neutral site matchup at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

 

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