NCAAB: No. 9 Arkansas to face pesky defense in Troy
No. 9 Arkansas will look to maintain its momentum coming off its first victory over a ranked team this season when it hosts Troy on Monday in Fayetteville, Ark.
After opening the season 4-0, the Razorbacks stumbled in their first big test in a 90-87 loss to No. 10 Creighton in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday. But Arkansas bounced back to knock off No. 17 San Diego State in overtime in the third-place game on Wednesday.
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After trailing by 13 in the first half, Arkansas (5-1) pulled to within 61-53 with 5:32 remaining before tying the game when Kamani Johnson tipped-in Anthony Black’s missed shot as time expired to send the game into overtime tied at 67.
Ricky Council IV’s jumper with 3:38 left gave Arkansas a 71-70 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“I mean, you’re always worried when you’re down double digits, but I just kept huddling the guys up, telling them, ‘We got to keep fighting, we got to stay in it,'” Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile said. “We prepped for them hard. We were well-prepared, but we knew it was going to be a fight going in.”
Brazile had 20 points and nine rebounds, while Council added 19 points — including five of the Razorbacks’ 11 in overtime — to go along with four assists. Black chipped in 15 points and five rebounds, with Johnson posting seven points and seven rebounds.
“I think it builds confidence,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “In the huddles from about the 3-minute mark on it was a team that felt connected. It was a team that felt like they could really fight through the fatigue and fight through the adversity.”
Council averages a team-high 19 points to go along with 3.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game, while Black averages 14.2 points 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Brazile averages 13.3 points and a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game.
Troy is coming off an 118-61 win over visiting Southern-New Orleans on Tuesday during which Nelson Phillips recorded an NCAA record-tying 13 steals. Daron “Mookie” Blaylock set the mark twice, once in 1987 against the Centenary and a year later against Loyola Marymount.
Phillips also had 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
“It was just amazing to watch him fly around and create chaos defensively. He was so close to a quadruple-double,” Troy coach Scott Cross said. “He was plus-61 in his 27 minutes on the floor which is an outlandish stat.”
The Trojans have won two straight to improve to 6-1 — their best start since the 2002-2003 season — and feature a well-balanced offense.
Duke Miles averages 14.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while Phillips averages 13.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and a team-leading 3.1 steals per game that rank seventh nationally. Christyon Eugene averages 12 points, while Kieffer Punter, Zay Williams and Aamer Muhammad have played in every game and average at least nine points per game.
But Troy also has excelled defensively. The Trojans, who defeated host Florida State 79-72 on Nov. 14, have yet to allow more than 76 points in a game this season. Arkansas averages 78.1 points per game.
“We’re going to Arkansas to win that game,” Cross said. “We aren’t going down there to just collect a check. They haven’t seen a defense like ours.”
–Field Level Media
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