No. 14 Arkansas plans to feature top transfers again when it hosts Gardner-Webb on Friday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
Both teams opened the season on Monday with lopsided home wins and effective 3-point shooting.
The Razorbacks (1-0) shot 40 percent (12 of 30) from downtown and hammered Alcorn State 93-59.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs (1-0) shot 38.9 percent (14 of 36) from deep and demolished Division II Erskine 98-58.
Temple transfer Khalif Battle led Arkansas with 21 points off the bench and Houston transfer Tramon Mark added 16 in the wire-to-wire win against the Braves that was one part dunk fest and another defensive clinic.
“I’ve never cared about coming off the bench. I only care about winning,” said Battle, a 6-foot-5 graduate senior who averaged 17.8 points over three seasons in Philadelphia before heading to the Southeastern Conference.
“The preparation comes from before the games even start, so coming off the bench doesn’t mean anything to me. Whatever coach (Eric Musselman) needs, or the coaching staff and the team needs, that’s what I’m going to do to maximize our team’s potential.”
Battle shot 5-for-9 from the field — including 3-for-6 from 3-point range — and 8-for-9 at the foul line. He added three rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
“We’re running plays for him,” Musselman said after the game. “Really explosive scorer. Great foul shooter. So late games, we need him to have the ball in his hands if we’re in the bonus.
“He was phenomenal tonight. And he can rise up. He has deep range. Shoots with great confidence. He’s a really good offensive player.”
Trevon Brazile added 13 points and the Razorbacks turned 16 Alcorn State turnovers into 22 points, registered 20 assists on 28 field goals, and outrebounded the Braves 44-26.
Gardner-Webb also dominated the glass in its opener with a 57-26 rebounding edge against Erskine. The Bulldogs held the Flying Fleet to 35.7 percent shooting.
Five players scored in double figures for Gardner-Webb, led by Darryl “Buddy” Simmons II and Brendan Mykalcio with 15 each off the bench. Caleb Robinson added 14, DQ Nicholas had 13 and Shahar Lazar scored 12. Mykalcio added a game-high 11 rebounds, six on the offensive end.
“I really loved our intensity on the offensive glass — 25 offensive rebounds is really good,” Bulldogs coach Tim Craft said. “I thought our guys were pretty focused. It was 40 minutes of trying to play with an edge, play really focused basketball, play winning basketball, and I felt like for the most part we did that today.”
Mykalcio, a 6-foot-7 junior, only needed 22 minutes to complete his first career double-double.
“He’s worked really hard and waited patiently for his opportunity and he sees it,” Craft said. “He’s had a great preseason. He really brings some different things to the table in attacking the paint and being able to rebound the ball. So, it was great to see him have a great night.”
Arkansas swept both previous meetings with Gardner-Webb, a Big South program from Boiling Springs, N.C. The Razorbacks won 86-69 on their home court in the most recent clash on Nov. 13, 2021.
–Field Level Media