Hoop Hogs (4-0) own SEC’s best record after 86-50 win over Lipscomb on Saturday

Local Sports

For the second consecutive game, Arkansas freshman guard Moses Moody led the team in scoring (18 points) as the Razorbacks were sharp from the outset en route to an 86-50 romp over Lipscomb on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Hogs closed out a season-opening four-game homestand unbeaten while emerging from the weekend with the SEC’s top record.

The Razorbacks (4-0) improved to 2-0 in the all-time series against the Bisons (1-3). Next up for Arkansas is the first road test of 2020-21 as the Hogs will travel to play defending American Athletic Conference champion Tulsa on Tuesday (6 p.m. CT, livestream provided by ESPN+).

Moody made his first two three-point shot attempts as Arkansas drained 5-of-7 from distance to start the game while racing out to a 20-2 lead. The Hogs expanded a 22-point halftime lead to 56-24 with a 10-0 spurt — mostly coming from drives to the basket — to start the second half. It was game, set, match at that point.

Moody made 7-of-8 field goals (including 2-of-2 from 3) and 2-of-3 free throws for his 18 points to go with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 24 minutes. The 6-5 Little Rock native has put up a total of 42 points and 17 rebounds in Arkansas’ last two games.

“It is what it is,” Moody said when asked about his back-to-back production outbursts. “I’m glad you guys (media) are getting a chance to see a little bit of that. I’ve been putting in the work behind the scenes, so I’ve just got to trust the process, trust the work that I’ve put in. The outcome will be what it is.”

Moody was 1 of 3 Hogs in double-figure scoring as junior combo guard JD Notae (12 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist) and senior graduate-transfer Vance Jackson, Jr. (10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal) came off the bench to join him at the top of the scoring leader board. Sophomore big man Connor Vanover had game-highs with 9 rebounds and 4 blocks to go with his 6 points, 1 assist, and 1 steal.

Arkansas, the worst rebounding team in the SEC a season ago, won the rebounding battle for the fourth consecutive game (54-32) as the Hogs are now plus-64 on the glass for the season. The Razorbacks owned the interior, winning points-in-the-paint (38-16), second-chance-points (20-10), and the Hogs were dominant scoring inside the arc as they made 22-of-32 from two-point range (a sizzling 68.8%). After their fast start from 3, the Hogs cooled down and settled for a respectable 11-of-34 effort from distance (32.4%). Overall from the field, Arkansas was 33-of-66 (50%), and the Hogs were 9-of-12 from the free throw line (75%).

As a team, Arkansas enjoyed its best ball movement of the season (237 passes, and only 11 tunrovers against 17 assists) and the Hogs appeared to be locked in defensively from the opening tip. The Hogs held Lipscomb to 15-of-59 field goal shooting (25.4%), including 5-of-21 from 3 (23.8%). The Bisons were only a 66.7% free throw shooting team coming in, and they were worse than that on Saturday with a 15-of-27 effort on freebies (55.6%).

Arkansas held Lipscomb’s two leading scorers — guards Romeao Ferguson and Greg Jones, who came in combining for 29.0 points per game — scoreless for the first 25 minutes of the game. The duo finished with a combined 6 points on 1-of-11 field goals. Both were prolific shooting from 3 coming in, but only Jones scratched from distance (1-of-5). Preseason ASUN Player of the Year pick Ahsan Asadullah (6-8, 265-poind forward) had 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists to lead the Bisons.

“I thought we played really well,” said second-year Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman, who improved to 16-1 in non-conference games since taking over the Razorbacks’ program. “Obviously coming into the game, it’s the same roster that Lipscomb has against Cincinnati, and they led for most of the game at Cincinnati. And Cincinnati is a great team, Cincinnati’s got great toughness … I thought our guys were extremely locked in defending a lot of their backdoor cuts, because they run a lot of the Princeton offense.

“I thought our size really bothered them. I don’t know that we’ve ever had a team that had 237 passes in a game … we had great ball movement, we shared the ball. To hold a team to 25% from the field is phenomenal, plus-22 on the backboards (so) we did a great job rebounding the ball. I thought we shared the ball as well as we have in a long, long time. and then we shot good from the field — 50% – and 41 bench points (compared to 24 for Lipscomb). So I thought everybody that checked in the game did a really good job tonight … pretty pleased with how we played tonight.”

Arkansas sent 13 players onto the court in total — 11 scholarship and 2 walk-ons — and at various points in the game the Hogs had their four highly touted freshmen on the court at the same time. Adding to Moody’s contributions, freshman big man Jaylin Williams had 6 points (including a three-pointer), 7 rebounds, and 1 assist in 18 minutes; freshman point guard KK Robinson registered 5 points, a game-high 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal in 21 minutes; and freshman combo guard Davonte “Devo” Davis had 4 points (on 2-of-2 field goals), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 15 minutes.

A trio of Hog starters played sparingly in the route. Senior graduate-transfer combo forward Justin Smith had 9 points (3-of-5 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws), 6 rebounds, and 1 block in 18 minutes. Junior guard Desi Sills finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 13 minutes. Senior graduate-transfer combo guard Jalen Tate had 6 points (3-of-4 field goals), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block in 13 minutes. Junior forward Ethan Henderson played 14 minutes off the bench and chipped in 4 points (2-of-3 field goals), 4 rebounds, and 1 block.

Musselman sent out the same starting five — Sills, Moody, Smith, Tate, and Vanover — for the third consecutive game.

Vanover and Moody both made the first two three-pointers they took, and Sills drained a triple of his own, as the Hogs started 5-of-7 from behind the arc to run out to a 20-2 lead. Lipscomb would string together a 9-2 spurt to pull within 22-11, but Arkansas closed the first half by outscoring the Bisons 24-15 to stake a 46-24 halftime lead.

Moody led the Razorbacks in scoring in the first half with 10 points (4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3) as he and Arkansas’ other three freshmen — Jaylin Williams, KK Robinson, and Davonte “Devo” Davis — found themselves on the floor at the same time late in the first half along with junior forward Ethan Henderson. In the first 20 minutes, Williams had 6 points and 4 rebounds, Robinson had 2 points and 3 assists, and Davis had 3 rebounds and 1 steal.

Vanover had 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 assist at the break while Notae registered 7 points and 3 rebounds in the first half.

As a team in the first half, Arkansas shot 17-of-35 from the field (48.6%), including 7-of-20 frmo 3 (35.0%), and 5-of-6 from the free throw line (83.3%). The Razorbacks maed 10-of-15 from inside the arc (66.7%) in the opening half. The Hogs dominated the glass (29-12), assists (9-5), second-chance points (18-3), points-in-the-paint (18-8), and fast-break points (7-0). Defensively, the Hogs held Lipscomb to 8-of-27 field goals (29.6%), including 3-of-8 from 3 (37.5%). The Bisons were 5-of-10 from the free throw line.

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