Arkansas wasted no time getting back in action, when both the men’s and women’s teams took to Nolan Richardson court on the opening day of NCAA Basketball, November 25. Coach Neighbors and Coach Musselman were able to lead their teams to victories to start their respective seasons.
To start the double header in Fayetteville, the #14 Lady Backs took the floor versus Oral Roberts and were able to walk away with a convincing victory. Unlike the Men’s team, Neighbors squad was able to keep a ton of experience from last years team and the didn’t miss a beat. Senior Chelsea Dungee and Sophomore Makayla Daniels were both huge contributors in the Hogs 96-49 victory, tallying 17 and 14 points respectively. Sophomore Erynn Barnum was able to tally 14 points of her own and Sophomore Marquesha Davis played the best game of her young career, setting new personal best in points (11) and rebounds (11) on her way to her first career double double. Finally, Senior Taylah Thomas contributed as well, scoring 4 points and leading the team in rebounds with 13. There was one new face, however, that the Razorbacks were very happy to have on the floor. Former Oregon State Beaver, Grad Transfer, Destiny Slocum had an excellent debut for the Lady Backs. She led all scorers in total points and shooting percentage with 22 points on 9/14 (64%) shooting for the game and was also able to rack up 3 assists. Coach Neighbors has had this team trending upwards since he became the head coach, and it doesn’t look like that will change this season. The Lady Backs next match up will be against Wake Forest in the Gulf Coast Classic in Fort Myers, Florida.
To cap off the evening Head Coach Eric Musselman and the men’s team came into their opening match versus Mississippi Valley State with an entirely different narrative. The Hogs came in with only two players, Desi Sills and Ethan Henderson, that had played meaningful minutes in a Razorback uniform, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the box score. The team chemistry is seemingly already in place and the Hogs absolutely rolled to a 142-62 finish. The 80-point victory is the second largest margin in school history, and 142 points is the second most points scored in a game in school history. The team put on an absolute clinic from deep, going 20-40 on 3 pointers and shooting 56% on total shots and of the 14 Razorbacks that logged minutes in the game, 11 scored and 13 were able to get themselves into the box score one way or another. It was an all around team effort and no one person stood out among the rest, however Sophomore Connor Vanover lead all scorers with 23 points, shooting 4-5 from 3-point range, and was only 2 rebounds shy of a double-double. He also had 3 blocks. Freshman, Jaylin Williams lead the team in rebounds with 10 and just barely missed a double-double himself with 9 points. Desi Sills was the same workhorse that he always is, shooting 80% in a 19-point effort. Incoming grad transfers Justin Smith, Jalen Tate, and Vance Jackson all started picked up 13, 12, and 15 points respectively. Smith also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, Tate with 5 rebounds and 6 assists, and Jackson had 7 rebounds. Vance Jackson also eclipsed 1,000 career points.
Musselman brought a star-studded Freshman class into this game, which Jaylin Williams was a part of. Moses Moody was the only Freshman to crack the starting line-up and looked like a seasoned veteran. He put up a 16-point effort, leading the team in free throws shot, made, and FT% (9-10; 90%). KK Robinson and Devo Davis were also able to get considerable playing time. KK dropped 15 points and Devo scored 5. The Hogs will be back in action at BWA on Saturday vs North Texas.