By Kevin McPherson
FAYETTEVILLE — Even with team centerpiece and sophomore forward Trevon Brazile sitting out there were plenty of fireworks from three and other storylines that emerged from Arkansas’ annual Red/White Showcase intra-squad scrimmage at Barnhill Arena.
Sophomore wing Joseph Pinion led six Red players in double figures with a game-high 20 points (7-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3, and 3-of-4 free throws) to go with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and boxscore plus-13 in 27 minutes as his team broke a 41-all tie at halftime to topple the White, 88-70, in front of a hearty crowd of nearly 5,500 inside the venue that the men’s and women’s basketball teams called home through the 1992-93 season.
Seven different Hogs hit three’s as the teams combined for 14-of-28 shooting from distance (50%).
“First of all, the crowd was awesome,” Head Hog Eric Musselman said after the game. “It was closer to 6,000 than 5,500. So the turnout when the weather’s not great, and we’re still a long way from playing a game. So I thought the crowd was awesome.
“I think the guys felt that, even pregame. A lot of things we need to clean up, we need to get better. But all things that we think are teachable. The shooting is obviously … We’re going to be able to stretch the defense out a little bit more than maybe we have in the past. So really pleased with our shooting. Pretty pleased wit how the flow of the offense is. We’re running an offense that we ran for about 10 games two years ago that’s kind of what Milwaukee ran two years ago. And it requires a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and pretty happy with how far advanced the guys are with that. Obviously we’ve got to get a lot, lot better. Some guys are further advanced on knowing this than others, but that’ll hopefully come over time.”
Senior lead guard El Ellis had a strong floor game for the Red with his 16 points (8-10 field goals), game-high 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, and boxscore plus-17 in 28 minutes. Senior big man Jalen Graham finished with 15 points (7-of-11 field goals, including 1-of-1 from 3), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 turnover in 28 minutes. Senior forward Chandler Lawson had a double-double for the Red team — 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks,1 steal, 0 turnovers, and a boxscore plus-16 in 27 minutes. Veteran guard Davonte “Devo” Davis contributed 13 points (5-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3, and 1-of-1 free throw) to go with 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, and a game-high boxscore plus-20 in 24 minutes. Senior forward Denijay Harris chipped in 11 points, a game-high 5 steals, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, and a boxscore plus-14 in 22 minutes.
The White team was led by senior wing Jeremiah Davenport, who scored all 19 of his points (6-of-10 from the field, including 5-of-8 from 3, and 2-of-2 free throws) in the first half, and he also finished with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and a game-high 6 turnovers in 23 minutes.
Also for the White, senior forward / center Makhi Mitchell had 13 points (6-of-7 field goals, including 1-of-1 from 3, and 0-of-3 free throws), 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, and 2 turnovers in 23 minutes. Freshman center Baye Fall also had 13 points (5-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws) to go with 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 turnover in 18 minutes. Freshman guard Layden Blocker contributed 10 points (3-of-7 field goals and 4-of-4 free throws), a team-high 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 turnover in 28 minutes. Veteran wing Tramon Mark had 7 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers in 28 minutes. Sophomore guard Keyon Menifield, Jr. — he’ll redshirt in 2023-24 — had 5 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal, and 1 turnover in 28 minutes.
The Red team shot a blistering 37-of-54 from the field (68.5%), including 6-of-11 from 3 (54.5%), and 8-of-11 at the free throw line (72.7%). The Red dominated the glass (plus-10 at 27-17) and turnovers [plus-6 at 13-7, including plus-7 in steals at 10-3).
The White team shot 26-of-47 from the field (55.3%), including 8-of-17 from 3 (47.1%), and 10-of-15 from the foul line (66.7%).
It seemed unlikely that Brazile would play given what Musselman told the media following practice on Thursday, Sept. 28, which was Brazile (he’s completing recovery on his injured knee that ended his season nearly a year ago in early December 2022) would likely begin competing in live, full-contact scrimmaging in “two-and-a-half weeks.”
Indeed, Brazile was not included on either roster for the Red/White tilt. Musselman updated Brazile’s status following the Red/White game.
“With TB, we’re being — like, I want TB in March,” Musselman said. “I mean, we want him to get his rhythm and all that. He’s done an awesome job. He’s been cleared. He’s been with his rehab guy. They’ve done all the testing. Everything is great. Probably could’ve played tonight, three minutes a half, but why?
“We want him to go a little more three-on-three. He’s been going three-on-three live after we’re done with practice. So, he’ll go three-on-three live one more time this week at some point. But he’s been jumping into all of our drills. Offensively, when a player is coming back from an injury like that, that’s not really an issue. The issue is, ‘I’m guarding you or you or you and I got to react.’ And so that’s why we want to take our time. No real timeline other than we certainly — with the way it’s going now, he’s playing opening night.”
Junior guard Khalif Battle went through early pre-game warmups, but left the court appearing to favor his right foot. When he returned to the court, he was in street clothes and on crutches with his foot in a walking boot.
Musselman also addressed Battle’s injury status after the game.
“He practiced today,” Musselman said of Battle. “I walked over and got in the gym and he said his foot was really sore. They took him for a preliminary look over at the football facility. At that point, nothing, there was no determination there was anything, no break or anything. But I know that they’re going to look at it again tomorrow with some different X-rays or whatever.
“As of now, no update, nothing other than the fact he felt uncomfortable. Not in the same spot where he had a break earlier. Same foot, but not really related as of now. But we did have more than one doctor look at him over at football. Then we had a couple more doctors in our locker room. So right now, nothing unless whatever tests they run, something comes up.”
My midnight in Fayetteville takeaways, including Hogs’ new-found three-ball shooting, top performers, injury updates, and key recruiting updates (video linked) …
Video highlights from Red/White game (next 10 links) …
Video of Pinion, Davenport, and Ellis post-game interviews are in the next link…
Video of my halftime takeaways are in the next link…
Next up for Arkansas is the first of two exhibition games as the Hoop Hogs will host Division II Texas-Tyler on Friday, Oct. 20, at Bud Walton Arena.
The event marked the fourth Red/White game under Musselman as he enters his fifth season at Arkansas (the program did not have a Red/White game in the covid-shortened 2020-21 season).
The intra-squad scrimmage was free to the public, and the doors were opened at 5:30 p.m. to allow fans to enter Barnhill. Tickets were not required for the event and seating was general admission on a first-come, first-served basis.