Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Hogs, UALR set to play in 2021
Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman is shown during an exhibition game against Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Two years ago the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team beat the University of Arkansas at Little Rock 79-64 in an exhibition game when the Walton Arena court was named in Nolan Richardson’s honor.
This season the Razorbacks and Trojans will play in a game that counts on their records.
Arkansas is taking on UALR on Dec. 4 in Walton Arena in the programs’ first regular-season meeting. The matchup was part of the Razorbacks’ nonconference schedule released Monday.
UALR Coach Darrell Walker, an All-American guard at Arkansas, said he’s grateful to Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman and UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek for scheduling the game.
Arkansas' 2021-22 nonconference schedule
Date • opponent
Nov. 9 - Mercer
Nov. 13 - Gardner-Webb
Nov. 17 - Northern Iowa
Nov. 22 - Kansas State (Kansas City, Mo.)$
Nov. 23 - Illinois or Cincinnati (Kansas City. Mo.)$
Nov. 28 - Pennsylvania
Dec. 1 - Central Arkansas
Dec. 4 - UALR
Dec. 7 - North Carolina-Charlotte
Dec. 11 - Oklahoma (Tulsa)
Dec. 18 - Hofstra (North Little Rock)
Dec. 21 - Elon
Jan. 29 - West Virginia&
$ - Hall of Fame Classic
& - SEC/Big 12 Challenge
“Eric reached out to us about playing, and I told him we’d love to play,” Walker said. “I think it’s long overdue.
“It’s a great experience for our guys to go to Fayetteville. It’s always a great experience for me to go back to the University of Arkansas and be in front of the fans that I played for. So it’s a special game for me.”
Arkansas also is playing the University of Central Arkansas for the second consecutive season. Last season the Razorbacks beat the Bears 100-75 in the teams’ seventh meeting, but first since the 1946-47 season.
Arkansas and UCA will play on Dec. 1 in Walton Arena.
“I think Arkansas should play other in-state teams, and Eric is willing to take that challenge on,” Walker said. “It’s not an easy challenge, because if Eric loses to an in-state team, people will go, ‘What in the hell are you doing losing to one of those teams?’
“But at the end of the day, if Arkansas plays another in-state team 10 times, they’re probably going to win eight or nine. Every once in a while, Arkansas might lose, but Eric is a strong-minded guy and nothing intimidates him. Eric is very secure in who he is, and he’s very secure in his job at Arkansas.”
The Razorbacks also are returning to North Little Rock after a one-year absence because of the coronavirus pandemic to play Hofstra on Dec. 18 in Simmons Bank Arena.
Arkansas has neutral-site games against Kansas State on Nov. 22 and either Cincinnati or Illinois on Nov. 23 in Kansas City, Mo., in the Hall of Fame Classic; and against Oklahoma on Dec. 11 in Tulsa.
The Razorbacks open the season in Walton Arena against Mercer on Nov. 9. Other Fayetteville games will be against Gardner Webb on Nov. 13; Northern Iowa on Nov. 17; Penn on Nov. 28; North Carolina-Charlotte on Dec. 7; Elon on Dec. 21; and West Virginia on Jan. 29 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
“Arkansas is going to have a great team again this season after going to the Elite Eight,” Walker said. “Eric has done a great job turning that program around. We all know that.”
The Razorbacks advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time since 1995 before losing to eventual national champion Baylor 81-72 to finish 25-7 last season.
Arkansas lost four of its top six scorers, but added six transfers and freshman Chance Moore to returnees Davonte Davis, JD Notae, Jaylin Williams, Connor Vanover and Khalen Robinson.
“Arkansas got some really good players from the transfer portal,” Walker said. “I think they’re going to have a lot of versatility, which is great.
“We have some versatility on our team, too, which we’ve been looking to do for a few years, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Walker said he’s excited about adding junior-college transfers Myron Gardner and Deantoni Gordon — who began their careers at Georgetown and Wichita State, respectively — to the Trojans’ returnees led by Nikola Maric.
“We’ve got a really nice mixture of veteran guys with new guys,” Walker said. “I like the chemistry of this team. They’re for one another. We didn’t have that last year. Guys want to be in the gym. Guys pull for each other. I’m excited about these guys, but we’ll just see.
“Every coach in America likes their team right now.”
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