Anthony Black’s 26 points power Razorbacks past Louisville, 80-54, at Maui Invitational

Anthony Black, seen here dunking, shot 9/11 from the field, 3/5 from three-point distance.

By Otis Kirk

No. 9 Arkansas used a strong performance by freshman Anthony Black to take an easy 80-54 victory over Louisville on Monday in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Black led all scorers with 26 points including 9 of 11 from the field. His only two misses from the field were 3-point shots making 3 of 5 from downtown. Black also added three rebounds, six assists and two steals. Eric Musselman praised Black after the game.

“Anthony does so much,” Musselman said. “To think he had two more assists than the entire Louisville team is a real testament to his unselfishness for sure.”

The Hogs led 36-28 at halftime, but outscored Louisville 44-26 in the second half to take control of the game allowing Musselman to play 13 players. Ricky Council IV, a transfer from Wichita State, also was outstanding. Council scored 15 points hitting 3 of 7 from behind the 3-point line. He added three rebounds, and dished out a trio of assists while getting four steals. Council talked about the performance following the game and the 17-0 run Arkansas had halfway through the second half. Arkansas took it from 52-42 to 69-42 with 4:29 remaining in the game.

“It’s been amazing,” Council said of playing in Hawaii. “Our defense is stepping up and turning into offense. With a great point guard like Anthony Black he played his complete game today. He hit me on a couple of passes.”

While during the trip Musselman has allowed the team to have fun, but now that the games have started Council said the purpose of the trip has changed.

“It was definitely business last night,” Council said. “We got back to hotel and watched film. We will watch film on Creighton (tonight) and try to win this tournament.”

Makhel Mitchell had 12 points and tied with his twin brother, Makhi Mitchell, with six rebounds to lead the Hogs in that category. Makhel Mitchell also had three assists, two blocks and a pair of steals. Musselman was impressed with the Mitchell twins.

“I thought Makhel was really good,” Musselman said. “I thought Makhi played good. They give us shot blocking and interior defense. They give us great size. They did a good job of patrolling the paint defensively.”

Musselman liked the defense he saw from his team against Louisville. The Hogs held Louisville to 36 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“I thought defensively we were phenomenal both halves,” Musselman said. “We had a goal of trying to hold No. 3 (El) Ellis to under 12 and he had 11 points. So phenomenal defense by Devo Davis.

“But I thought the other four guys on the floor with him did a great job of shrinking the floor. He’s a dynamic scorer and we were able to hold him to 4 for 16. We were able to keep him off the free throw line. He only had two FTAs (free throw attempts).”

Kamari Lands led Louisville with 13 points to join Ellis in double-figure scoring. The Hogs shot 57 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the 3-point stripe.

Musselman knows the competition level will dial up several notches on Tuesday with Creighton the opponent.

“This was a game we had to get,” Musselman said. “We want to win more than one game obviously, but we felt it was an absolute must (to beat Louisville). Now we’ve got to go guard a really good offensive team in Creighton. And you’re talking about an older team. Some fifth-year seniors against a younger team in what we are.”

The Hogs (4-0) will take on No. 10 Creighton at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night in the semifinals. Creighton (5-0) defeated Texas Tech 76-65 earlier on Monday. Tuesday night’s game will be on ESPN. 

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