By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas went on a 19-3 run to end Monday night’s game as the No. 11 Razorbacks defeated Troy 74-61.
Arkansas trailed 58-55 with 6:53 remaining in the game and appeared in danger of losing its second game of the season. But at that point Ricky Council IV scored seven consecutive points and 11 of Arkansas’ final 19 points to propel the Hogs to the win. Council topped the Hogs with 27 points, three rebounds and one steal. Council was 12 of 18 from the field. Eric Musselman talked about Arkansas’ run and Council’s play to lead the Hogs to a strong ending.
“I thought we did a great job with that 17-0 run ending the game on maybe a 19-3 run,” Musselman said. “Ricky Council down the stretch was phenomenal. Both Mitchells (Makhi and Makhel) did a great job interior along with Kamani Johnson. That’s really as big as we’ve played.”
Council talked about his performance that helped the Hogs get the victory and if he was trying to take over the game.
“Not necessarily,” Council said. “I just wanted to get downhill because I was shooting too many threes. I remember I think the last three I took before I actually hit one, Coach was like, ‘Rack the ball, rack the ball,’ so I was like, ‘All right.’ I started driving and if they step up, I’m going to dish it. If not, I’m going to finish. That just led to me getting going.”
The win didn’t come easily as Troy led for 20 minutes, 22 seconds of the game compared to 15:32 for the Hogs. The game was tied for 4:06 and had 11 lead changes.
A positive for Arkansas was the first appearance of the season for Nick Smith Jr. The true freshman from North Little Rock played six minutes and missed both his shots, one a 3-point try.
“Fortunate that Nick Smith got a little bit of time and now he’ll get four or five days of practice leading up to our next game as well,” Musselman said.
Arkansas only had four assists on 27 made field goals which is unusual for them. Anthony Black finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and two steals. Makhi Mitchell also added 14 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked three shots. Johnson, the hero of the win over San Diego State, had eight points, three rebounds and one steal.
Arkansas was only 3 of 11 from behind the 3-point line while the Trojans hit 9 of 28. Arkansas made it up at the free throw line. The Razorbacks made 17 of 23 free throws compared to only 4 of 8 for Troy.
The Hogs won the battle of the boards 33-26. Arkansas shot 53 percent from the field to 43 for Troy.
The Trojans were led by Nelso Phillips who had 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Christy Eugene was next with 13 points while Zay Williams chipped in 11.
Junior guard Davonte “Devo” Davis didn’t against Troy and prior to the game Musselman issued this statement.
“Davonte Davis is taking some time away from basketball. He has our full support during this time.”
Davis also didn’t play the second half against San Diego State in the Maui Jim Maul Invitational. Following Monday night’s win, Musselman was asked about Davis’ status.
“I think we’re just respecting Devo’s privacy,” Musselman said. “Our thoughts are with him, and that’s where it is right now.”
Arkansas will be at home on Saturday to host San Jose State at 3 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. The Spartans will bring a 6-2 record in to face the 6-1 Hogs.