Council’s 15 points, seven assists boost Razorbacks to 74-48 win over Fordham

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas continued its winning ways with an easy 74-48 victory over Fordham Friday night in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks used a big second half where they outscored the Rams 42-27. Wichita State transfer Ricky Council IV led the way for the Hogs with 15 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. He said his distributing was something urged on by Eric Musselman.

“I felt great,” Council said. “I honestly wanted to be in that type of situation more. But like I keep saying, I just want to do what Coach Muss wants me to do. Tonight he wanted me to do that and I did it. I think I did a pretty good job. I think I remember I had maybe two turnovers, so just clean those up.”

It appeared the Hogs were going to run Fordham out of the gym taking a 30-11 lead with 3:33 remaining in the first half. But the Rams then went on a 10-2 run to end the first half and pull within 32-21. Khalid Moore scored on a conventional 3-point play to start the second half pulling Fordham to within 32-24. However the Hogs on an 18-7 run to take control of the game playing great defense.

“I just told Chuck on the radio I thought that’s as good as we’ve played defensively,” Musselman said. “That’s an Atlantic 10 team. They’re a team that I think averaged close to 80 points last year. They have a player that was not just an all-league player in their current conference but was also an all-league player at Youngstown State. Our length is unique defensively. I still think we have to challenge some shots a little bit more than we did. I thought (Antrell) Charlton, No. 24, took some shots in the lane that we’ve got to get a little more closer. We have to front the post probably a little better as well.”

Arkansas shot 46 percent from the field, but struggled from deep making only two of 16 from behind the 3-point line. The biggest factor for Arkansas was scoring 30 points off the 30 turnovers they forced along with a 54-20 advantage of points in the paint.

“Defensively, I thought we were phenomenal,” Musselman said. “I don’t use that word often, but forcing 30 turnovers I think is the most since 2004. I thought our defensive activity was phenomenal. I thought we played a great second half. Their defense was a little bit unique where they decided not to guard people. We made an adjustment at halftime and put two guys in the dunker spot. My dad’s team at Ashland College actually ran an offense very similar. For whatever reason, I often read his playbook. We had never run that play before. We called it Ram after their nickname and put two guys on the dunker spot and let those two guys kind of rubber band.

“I thought Jordan Walsh was phenomenal down there in the dunker spot. We have not since we’ve been together even in skeleton 5-on-0 had Ricky Council play any pick-and-roll. We felt putting the ball in his hands was going to be important for us to try to figure out a way to score. In the first half, I think we were a little bit surprised in how they defended us. I thought the guys really adjusted well scoring 42 points in the second half.”

Musselman wasn’t surprised about the 54 points in the paint as his players were outstanding in that regard Friday.

“The 54 points in the paint,” Musselman said. “That’s kind of who we are. The thing I think is really important tonight is they had the defense as packed in as it possibly could be. What it does is allow you to get a running start to the offensive glass, and that’s one of the things we talked about at halftime. If the defense is packed in like that, we are flying to the O-boards. Anybody that plays us like that, you’re going to have to box somebody out that you’re not really guarding. We’ll work on it and we’re going to exploit people that guard us like that. I thought it was a great game for us to see that, but good luck trying to block us out if you’re going to be 10-toes in the lane.”

The Hogs only committed 13 turnovers of their own and outrebounded Fordham 38-29. Missouri transfer Trevon Brazile led Arkansas with eight rebounds to go with his eight points. Anthony Black added 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.

Jordan Walsh had 12 points and four rebounds. A couple of other Razorbacks who had big games were Davonte Davis and Makhi Mitchell. Davis had seven points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals. Mitchell added eight points, four rebounds, two assists, a pair of blocked shots and three steals. Walsh was in foul trouble against North Dakota State, but played better against the Rams.

“It was good, but the main goal for me was just to win another game to put on our resume,” Walsh said. “That was the biggest thing for me, just to move on to the next game already being 2-0.”

Jalen Graham came off the bench to score eight points and pulled down three rebounds. Joseph Pinion, Derrian Ford and Lawson Blake each had two points as well for the Hogs. Council praised what Graham brought to the game.

“I thought he was great,” Council said. “I told him when they subbed him out at the end there, I said, ‘Way to earn your minutes back.’ I mean, he came out with great energy, finishing, great footwork as always. We’re gonna need him in big games. I mean, we have four bigs to rely on, and whichever one is hot that night, we’re gonna have to go with.”

Darius Quinsenberry and Elijah Gray led the Rams with 10 points each.

The win moved Arkansas to 2-0 on the season while Fordham dropped to 1-1. Arkansas will next take the court on Wednesday night hosting South Dakota State at 7:00 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. South Dakota State is currently 1-1 on the season losing 81-80 in overtime to Akron. They defeated Boise State 68-66. They will host St. Bonaventure on Tuesday night before heading to Fayetteville and playing the Razorbacks on Wednesday night in an odd scheduling quirk. 

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