Hogs dominate Rogers State 83-49 in exhibition game

Razorback freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. (#3) from Jacksonville, Arkansas dribbles through heavy traffic against Rogers State in an exhibition game Monday night at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas dominated from the beginning and never were threatened as they took an easy 83-49 win over Rogers State Monday night in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks struggled to beat East Central 77-74 in the preseason opener last year, but Nick Smith Jr. scored the first seven points of the game and it was never close. Arkansas shot 60 percent from the field and 39 percent from behind the 3-point line. Morrilton’s Joseph Pinion was 4 of 6 from deep and led the Hogs with 15 points in just 14 minutes. Pinion is one of six highly-touted freshmen on the team.

“It was better than last year’s exhibition game,” Musselman said. “I thought Joseph played really well in the Red-White game. I thought that he played really well tonight. You know we were searching for that last year, just like a guy who could make a shot when we struggled.

“I think with Joseph the biggest thing is getting loose balls and defending. No. 0 (Sherwyn Devonish-Prince Jr.) hurt us at times. I thought he did as good a job defensively tonight as anyone we had on No. 0. He spaced it out. We ran plays for him. We probably ran more plays for Joseph tonight than anyone who checked into the game, including the starters. We called plays for him and people try to zone us tonight. He played his minutes and that’s all you can ask.”

Arkansas outrebounded Rogers State 42-22, but the Hogs did commit 16 turnovers compared to only 13 for the opponent. Arkansas showed off its deep bench as well, outscoring Rogers State, 42-17. The Hogs limited Rogers State to 30 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the 3-point line. Arkansas only made 20 of 37 free throws (54 percent).

“There’s some areas we’ve got to get better at for sure,” Musselman said. “Turning the ball over, which was a problem overseas. The 16 turnovers is troublesome because we want to get a shot on goal. But we only had five in the second half. It was the kind of turnovers [you get while] trying to make home run plays. I don’t think pressure is going to bother us. It’s more us just understanding value of the ball.”

Musselman obviously wasn’t pleased with the results at the free throw line.

“Historically, we’ve been a high volume free throw attempt team,” Musselman said. “Thirty-seven FTAs, though we’ve got to improve drastically in our free throw percentage. But I thought we did a great job attacking the rim and drawing fouls.”

Arkansas held a comfortable 37-20 lead at the intermission. Trevon Brazile and Jordan Walsh helped lead an early charge in the second half to make sure the Hogs continued their dominance. Brazile, a Missouri transfer, finished with 11 points, six rebounds and team-leading four blocks.

Walsh, one of the three McDonald’s All-America freshmen, had eight points, team-leading seven rebounds and two assists. Smith Jr. added nine points, three rebounds and two assists. The third McDonald’s All-America Hog is Anthony Black. He had six points, three rebounds, led the team with five assists and added two steals.

Wichita State transfer Ricky Council IV added eight points, two rebounds and three assists. Arizona State transfer Jalen Graham followed up an impressive Red-White game when he scored 25 points by having seven points, two rebounds and a pair of assists.

True freshman Barry Dunning Jr. and Rhode Island transfer Makhi Mitchell each had six points. Dunning had two rebounds and Mitchell three. True freshman Derrian Ford had two points and three rebounds. Makhel Mitchell didn’t score, but had four rebounds and two assists. Makhel also transferred to Arkansas with his brother from Rhode Island.

The two returning players also got in on the action. Kamani Johnson had five points in just six minutes. Davonte “Devo” Davis played 18 minutes off the bench. He failed to score, but did have three rebounds and a trio of assists.

Devonish-Prince Jr. topped Rogers State with 13 points. Gerren Jackson added 11 while Joey Saracco had six points and seven rebounds. Rogers State is a Division II school from Claremore, Okla.

The starters for Arkansas were Smith Jr., Black, Walsh, Brazile and Graham. Brazile and Walsh each played 23 minutes, Black 22 and Smith Jr. 20. Graham played just 12 minutes.

Arkansas will be in Austin on Saturday to take on Texas in another exhibition game. It will tip at 3:00 p.m. The Razorbacks open the regular season on Monday, November 7, when they host North Dakota State at 7:00 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. 

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