Although No. 14 Arkansas is off to a perfect start, coach Eric Musselman isn’t entirely pleased with what he’s seen from his team through the first three games of the season.
The Razorbacks will soon be up against some stiff competition, and Musselman hopes they can begin to find a solution to some of their shortcomings on Friday when they face UNC Greensboro in Fayetteville, Ark.
Arkansas (3-0) survived a scare from Old Dominion on Monday, prevailing 86-77 despite a lackluster performance on the defensive end. The Razorbacks allowed the Monarchs to can 11 of 24 (45.8 percent) 3-pointers while also struggling to contain guards Chaunce Jenkins (21 points) and Devin Ceaser (18).
“You’ve got to keep the ball in front of you,” Musselman said. “You can’t get hit on screens. … We didn’t guard the three or the dribble drive. It’s one thing if you’re like, ‘Hey, we shut them down from three, and we gave up some dribble drives.’ They did whatever they wanted.”
Crashing the glass was also an issue for Arkansas, which was outrebounded 39-35.
“We have to be way more physical defensive rebounding the basketball,” Musselman said. “Way more physical. I mean, we’re going to be playing against teams that are much bigger, much stronger, much more athletic.”
Some of those tougher teams include Stanford, which the Razorbacks are set to face next Wednesday in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and No. 9 Duke, which Arkansas plays on Nov. 29. The Razorbacks will also go up against either Michigan or Memphis during the Battle 4 Atlantis play depending on the tournament’s results.
But first Arkansas has to get past the Spartans (1-1), who are also looking for answers defensively.
UNC Greensboro beat North Carolina A&T 94-78 in its season opener, but the Spartans broke down in the second half, letting the Aggies shoot 50 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from deep.
While UNC Greensboro had no problem generating good looks, coach Mike Jones realizes offense can only take his team so far, and his concerns were validated in a 74-70 loss to Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
The Commodores hung 41 points on the Spartans in the first half and brought down 13 more rebounds for the game (44-31).
“We can shoot,” Jones said after the win against North Carolina A&T. “If we can’t defend and rebound at a very high level, then we’re going to have trouble winning important games, big games, any games. We’re going to have trouble winning games if we don’t defend and rebound better than we did.”
Mikeal Brown-Jones and Keyshaun Langley have paced UNCG’s high-scoring offense, as both are averaging 19 points per game. Khalif Battle averages a team-high 18.3 for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas has also been leaning on Davonte Davis, who has nine assists without a turnover to start the season.
“Not many players in the country that have played his minutes … haven’t had a turnover,” Musselman said.
Friday marks the third all-time meeting between the teams. The Razorbacks are 2-0 against the Spartans, most recently defeating them 65-58 on Dec. 6, 2022.
–Field Level Media
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 38 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 138-136 overtime win over the visiting Golden State Warriors on Friday. The Thunder have won three of…
Luka Doncic recorded 32 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to help the Dallas Mavericks notch a 125-112 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Dante Exum…
Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 41 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 117-103 win against the Utah Jazz on Friday night and end an 11-game losing streak…
Kyrie Irving injured in Mavericks’ victory over Blazers
Kawhi Leonard pours in 41 as Clippers dump Jazz
Kyrie Irving (right foot) exits Mavericks game vs. Blazers
Rockets hold on, hand Nuggets first home loss