FAYETTEVILLE — Freshman guard Moses Moody got the Red team off to a fast start by making his first three shots and junior guard JD Notae took over the baton with 24 second-half points (including a scorching 7-of-11 effort from 3) as the Red team rolled to a 103-67 win Thursday over the White team in front of 2,023 students at Bud Walton Arena in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ annual intra-squad scrimmage.
Because of the NCAA’s mandate that there will be no exhibition games due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Red-White game stands as Arkansas’ only preseason dress-reheasal in front of fans before the regular season opener against Mississippi Valley State at BWA on Nov. 25.
Arkansas was picked to finish 6th in the SEC earlier Thursday by media members who cover the league, and there were no Razorbacks selected to the media’s preseason picks for All SEC performers.
But a few Hogs made it clear Thursday night that they’ll have some say when postseason honors are handed out.
Notae (game-high 30 points on a combined 9-of-18 from 3 splitting time between both squads) and Moody (21 points including two made three-pointers, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals all with the Red team) were joined by senior combo forward Justin Smith (22 points on 9-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-3 from 3, to go with 6 assists and 3 rebounds all with the Red team) and senior combo guard Jalen Tate (11 points, a game-high 8 assists, and 5 rebounds all with the Red team) in sending the winners to a lopsided victory.
The Red squad led by 10 points at halftime and 19 points through three quarters before outscoring the White team 31-14 in the fourth quarter for the final margin. During a 1:38 stretch in the final quarter, Notae splashed four consecutive three-pointers.
“Just being able to shoot allowed me to do whatever I wanted to with the defense because they have to come out farther,” Notae said. “It is just part of my game that I worked on in this offseason to increase my range. I can shoot deeper 3s and make them.”
Smith said he was not expecting his Red team’s thorough display of dominance.
“Yeah I was a little bit surprised, but I know I can only speak for the Red team,” Smith said. “We wanted to go out there and really play hard. Try to simulate a real game. Just kinda get a little practice run going here. That’s just kinda how the score came out. But I think both teams played hard, but there’s some things both sides need to work on.”
Defense, or the lack thereof, took a back seat to the offense on Thursday as the Red team finished 39-of-68 from the field (57.9%), including 16-of-34 from 3 (47.1%), and 9-of-11 from the free throw line (81.8%).
The Red team also had 27 assists against only 6 turnovers. Fueled by Notae’s outburst, the Red team shot 12-of-17 from 3 (70.6%) in the second half.
Junior guard Desi Sills scored 24 points (13 with the White team in the second half and 11 with the Red in the first half) to go with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Freshman guard KK Robinson went the entire way with the White team and led with 18 points (8-of-11 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3) to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal.
Splitting time with both teams, senior combo forward Vance Jackson, Jr. had 15 points (5-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-6 from 3, and 2-of-2 free throws) and 6 rebounds.
Freshmen Davonte “Devo” Davis (8 points, game-high 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal playing solely with the White team) and Jaylin Williams (4 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 assist) had positive impact throughout the game.
Big men and Little Rock natives Connor Vanover and Ethan Henderson combined for 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks (Vanover scored 7 points for the Red team and Henderson had 8 points for the White team).
The White team was efficient offensively if not as explosive from 3 as the Red team. The White finished 24-of-44 shooting from the field (54.5%), including 7-of-20 from 3 (35.0%), and a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line (100%).
“Really disappointed with White’s defense,” Arkansas’ second-year head coach Eric Musselman said. “I don’t know if I’ve been a part of an instrasquad scrimmage where a team gives us a 103 points in a 36-minute game, 67 to 103. I mean the numbers on White are pretty much meaningless if you lose the game by that much.
“Obviously, we made the switch with JD. I wanted him to play with the Red group, as well as Vance. The good thing is there’s a lot of things that we needed to clean up. I was really impressed with Red. Only six turnovers. They scored 103 points and they only had six turnovers.”
The game started with these lineups: Red team — Moody, Williams, Tate, Smith, and Sills started with Vanover playing off the bench; White team — Robinson, Henderson, Davis, Notae, and Jackson started.
Smith scored 12 points while Moody and Sills each had 11 points as the Red team used a 12-0 run early in the second quarter en route to a 41-31 halftime lead. Williams led the Red team with 6 first-half rebounds.
The White team had a nice second-quarter run of its own — 9-0 — and Robinson led the White with 11 points (5-of-5 field goals including a made three-pointer) in the opening half while Davis stuffed the stat sheet with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. Jackson hit a couple of triples and had 8 points at the break.
Davis won the pre-game dunk contest that included Moody, Henderson, and Smith.
In pre-game warmups, each player wore a jersey that bore the name and number of a former Hog before they switched back to their actual jerseys for the game.
Students were the only fans allowed inside BWA (maximum attendance this season is limited to 4,000 fans per game) but the scrimmage was live-streamed by the SEC Network.
Arkansas returned to BWA for its Red-White game after playing it last season in venerable Barnhill Arena, which had been retired from hosting basketball events spanning the previous 26 years.
The Hogs held a live scrimmage on Friday with SEC officials as junior-transfer Notae led all scorers with 20 points while Moody was next with 18 points (including 5-of-6 shooting from 3). Senior combo forward Vance Jackson, Jr., scored the ball well, too, in that scrimmage.