Hogs Beat UALR


By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Other than the close of both halves, the  injury depleted University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans coached by former University of Arkansas Razorbacks All-American Darrell Walker hung surprisingly tough against his old school Saturday at Walton Arena.

Ultimately, though, spurred by forward Au’Diese Toney’s big first half and guard JD Notae’s big second half, the AP 10th-ranked and Coaches poll ninth-rated Razorbacks of Fayetteville  prevailed, 93-78.

The victory ups Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks  to 8-0 heading into Tuesday night’s game at Walton Arena against the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

The Trojans, 4-5 of the Sun Belt Conference, next play Missouri State Wednesday night at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Though without seven players, including their No. 1 and No. 3 scorers on the season, the Trojans behind 6-7 forward Mark Lukic’s game-leading 23 points and 17-points/game-leading 10 rebounds double-double Isaiah Palermo kept the Trojans resilient even as Arkansas seemed about to put them away.

It’s kind of what we expected as far as them playing really hard,” Musselman said postgame. “They executed really well. Sometimes when you know you’re going to play, and you have a short rotation, good things happen. I thought Coach Walker did a great job with his rotation. He would go small, then he would put his big back in. I thought they did good of mixing and matching and utilizing their personnel.”

Walker implied the Trojans did about all they could with what they had.

“Nobody needs to feel sorry for us because if it was the other way around I would try to beat the Hell out of Muss,” Walker said.”Trust me.  It’s unfortunate it is at the wrong time, but that is part of it.”

They went in believing they would make a game of it by doing their part.

“I thought the effort was really good,” Walker said.   “I had told my team watching film that if we didn’t turn the ball over a lot  and we could kind of stay within the rebound margin (the teams tied 31-31) and make some shots we would have a chance to be in the basketball game and that’s what happened.”

But there are many reasons, Walker said, that Musselman’s Hogs rank ninth and 10th in the national polls.

“They’ve got some really good basketball players, man,” Walker said.  “There’s a reason Muss’ record is what it is, man.  He does an unbelievable job.  They are physical and they are tough.   I tell people all the time they shoot the ball well they can beat you by 15 or 20 for sure.  It’s a good basketball team there.  They’re physical and they’re solid and they’ve got guys who can score.”

  Toney scored 16 of his  18 points in the first half and bagged a team-leading eight rebounds. 

“He’s a junkyard dog,” Walker said of Toney, the 6-6 grad transfer forward via the University of Pittsburgh. “ I’d love to have a guy like that.  You don’t have to call any plays for him.  He just gets it within the system.  That’s a great pickup by Muss.  He’s a really good basketball player, man.  He’s kind of the glue guy on this basketball team. He’s solid.”

Notae scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

Sophomore Razorbacks  guard Devo Davis of Jacksonville,  whose four fouls absence from 12:33 to 2:33 not so coincidentally coincided with the Trojans fighting back after appearing on the ropes, scored 16 points with four rebounds and seven assists against zero turnovers.

I thought Devo was as dialed in as I’ve been around him,” Musselman said.  “I thought he played on a different level. I thought Jaylin (Williams)  and Au’Diese and Devo, those three guys played on a different level today.

Razorbacks starting power forward/center  Williams scored nine points with seven boards and four assists and sixth man guard Chris Lykes scored 14 points.

UALR took one lead, 3-2 in the first half it only trailed, 34-30 with 4:24 before intermission.

Starting with a Williams to Davis basket, Arkansas for the first half’s final 4:09 outscored Trojans, 15-4 to lead, 49-34.

That’s over and out for most teams in the depleted Trojans, shoes.

But by 13:42 of the second half the Trojans were just down seven.  They kept at it to just down seven until consecutive Notae steals and baskets had them by double-digits reeling beyond a comeback.

Musselman found faults in Notae’s game, just one rebound and more turnovers and assists but did note, “He’s a guy that can kind of put  in the daggers.”

Walker’s Trojans felt Notae’s jagged edge.

“ He can flat out score,” Walker said.  “When he is on – and tonight he was on – he can beat you.”

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