FAYETTEVILLE – Behind senior guard JD Notae’s 23 points/10 rebounds double-double plus four steals, and 13 to 18 points from Razorbacks Chris Lykes, Jaylin Williams and Devo Davis, 12th-ranked Arkansas routed the University of North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers, 86-66 Tuesday night at Walton Arena.
Sixth-man via University of Miami grad transfer guard Lykes scored 13 points. Sophomore center/power forward Williams scored a career high 15 points and nearly double-doubled with eight rebounds and added three steals. Sophomore point guard Davis scored 18 points and dished eight assists.
Guards Davis, Notae and Lykes all played defensive hands in holding to 10 points, Charlotte premier guard Jamhir Young.
Young entered the game averaging 19.6 points and scored 26 when Charlotte defeated George Washington University, 76-69 last Saturday at Charlotte.
Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks of the SEC improved to 9-0 heading into Saturday’s 12:30 p.m ESPN2 televised game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
Coach Ron Sanchez’s 49ers of Conference USA fall to 4-4 and next play Saturday against Valparaiso in Valparaiso, Ind.
Arkansas didn’t shoot well from three, 3 of 13 with Notae only 1 of 6, but erased the boards, 41-21 for the game including an 11-0 offensive rebounds/ 22-11 total rebounds first-half advantage. Arkansas led the scoreboard 41-31.
With all that going for them and leading 73-58 with 6:22 left in the game, the Razorbacks needed a rare Musselman timeout reminder to put the 49ers away.
Consecutive threes by 49ers Luka Vasic and Austin Butler, Butler scored a team leading 14 points, brought Charlotte to down only 73-64 prompting at 5:48 for Musselman to call timeout.
What was his message?
“Just shot selection,” Musselman said. “I thought we took a couple questionable shots and wanted to remind them of time and score. That was when we started milking the clock. I told them we’re not going to get into our offensive set until there’s 12 on the clock, and I think we did that for three possessions. Got some stops at the other end, scored and then I let them play so I didn’t have to hear anything on Twitter about playing stall-ball.”
Davis scored at 5:02
Lykes scored at 3:53 after a Butler missed three and Notae drove to score at 2:59 prompting Musselman to cease winding down the clock and letting the Hogs finish their 13-2 run.
“Give Charlotte credit right there in the mid-section of the second half,” Musselman said. “But we milked the clock from about 5:30 to 3:30, got that thing back up where I thought we were in safe zone.”
Williams said it became easy to see that slowing it down would speed the 49ers mining empty.
“We just got stops and then handled the ball on the other side,” Williams said. “We were getting a couple turnovers and we just had to slow down the game and play smart.”
Musselman used the media to criticize Notae for getting just one rebound even while scoring 18 points in Arkansas’ 93-78 victory over the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans last Saturday at Walton Arena.
Notae obviously was on the boards Tuesday.
“Coach they told us that this team don’t get many offensive rebounds,” Notae said. “So that was the game plan to get on the defensive back boards. And a couple of them just fell in my hands.”
Williams expected the 6-2 guard playing surprisingly big on the boards.
“All week, me and JD were joking because he (Musselman) was saying that he had one board last game,” Williams said. “So I knew JD was gonna get boards this game. Rebounding is always one of the main focuses for us.”
Scoring comes secondary to Williams compared to rebounding and defense, but he had offense going Tuesday hitting 7 of 9 from the field while scoring his career high 15.
“I guess this game I was getting a lot more opportunities to shoot the ball,” Williams said. “And I got hit on the roll a lot. So that’s just really what happened.”
Musselman stressed keeping Jahmir Young off his game likely would prevent Charlotte from winning the game.
“The game plan was to take away the star,” Notae said. “He’s their star. So we just wanted to make it tough on him and just make him have to work for everything he gets. We know he’s a good scorer, so we just wanted to make him work for it.”
That started with Jacksonville’s Davis.
“Quite frankly our game plan was surrounding No. 1 Young,” Musselman said. “And I thought we did an absolutely incredible job.
Young hit only 4 of 14 shots, 0 for 5 from three, and while dishing five assists turned it over three times.
“I thought Devo did a great job,” Musselman said. “He was assigned to him. Then JD was assigned to Young a little. But Chris Lykes tonight, that was by far his best defensive game since he’s been here. We’ve made a lot of strides with Chris from a defensive standpoint tonight.”