No. 10 Arkansas continues intrastate slate vs. Little Rock

NCAA Men's Basketball

No. 10 Arkansas continues the in-state portion of its nonconference schedule when it hosts Little Rock on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (7-0) are coming off a 97-60 drubbing of Central Arkansas on Wednesday in which Davonte Davis and Au’Diese Toney each scored 16 points.

“It’s fun playing against those guys,” said Davis, one of five Arkansas natives on the Razorbacks’ roster, “just knowing that we’re from the same state, some of us even from the same parts (of) Arkansas.

“It’s wonderful playing against guys we know,” added Davis, who is from Jacksonville, Ark. “Not every main school in other states is playing other schools in their states, and I think it’s something that will start to trend as years go on in other states as well.”

Jaylin Williams, who is from Fort Smith, Ark., had eight points and 13 rebounds against Central Arkansas.

“It’s fun,” he said. “Just growing up in Arkansas, I want to see everybody succeed.

“I like it. I like playing against guys that I grew up playing against. … It’s a whole different thing. We’re out there having fun, talking smack, friendly smack. It’s just fun playing against those guys.”

It might not be all that enjoyable for Little Rock, which is 4-4 overall but only 2-4 against Division I teams. The Trojans have been plagued by injuries, as two things coach Darrell Walker said on his preseason coach’s show have come hauntingly true.

First, he noted that several players were on the shelf with injuries, and although some have returned, the Trojans have been without talented forward Nikola Maric (12.8 points, 6.5 rebounds per game) because of an injury for the last two games. Without him, Little Rock has been drubbed by Tulsa and Colorado State.

Walker also said just before the season began, “The only thing that’s keeping me up at night is turning that basketball over.”

The Trojans are averaging 17.2 turnovers in road and neutral-site games. Arkansas forced Central Arkansas into a whopping 25 giveaways.

Guards Alsean Evans and CJ White also were out with undisclosed injuries for Little Rock in its 86-55 loss to Colorado State on Wednesday, further depleting the depth.

As for Arkansas, coach Eric Musselman is hoping for a more solid 40 minutes despite the blowout of Central Arkansas. The Razorbacks allowed the Bears to shoot 7-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half and led only 41-35 at intermission before clamping down on defense.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” Musselman said. “We (had) made progress defending the three and (Wednesday) night we took a huge step backward.”

As for the offense, Musselman added, “I thought we tried to make way too many home run plays in the first half and we settled down in the second half.”

He also was not happy with the foul shooting. The Razorbacks, who are at 68.5 percent from the stripe for the season, were 8-for-20 in the first half before finishing 13-for-26.

“He gave us some motivational words” at halftime, Davis said with a grin, referring to the lackluster performance, adding, “I know we’re going to work on free throws.”

–Field Level Media

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