Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Hogs handle Rebels, improve to 5-4 in SEC
Arkansas players (from left) Moses Moody, Davontae Davis, JD Notae and Jalen Tate are shown during a game against Ole Miss on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — JD Notae scored 19 points to lead Arkansas to a 74-59 victory over Mississippi on Wednesday night for its third straight win.
The Razorbacks closed the first half on a 10-4 surge for a 37-25 halftime advantage and led by double digits the rest of the way. A 12-2 run made it 53-33 with about 10 minutes left.
The Razorbacks (13-4, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) have won nine of their last 12 games against Ole Miss (8-7, 3-5).
Notae was 4-of-11 shooting and made three of Arkansas' seven 3-pointers. He averages 13.7 points and led the Razorbacks in scoring for the fifth time this season. Davonte Davis added 14 points and Justin Smith had 10.
Devontae Shuler scored 19 points for Ole Miss. Jarkel Joiner had 11 points and Luis Rodriguez 10.
The Rebels missed 15 straight 3-point attempts and finished 1 of 16 from long range. It was a season low in scoring since their 65-62 loss at Dayton on Dec. 19.
Ole Miss plays at Georgia on Saturday for its second of four straight road games. Arkansas, which has played just four home games this season, will host Oklahoma State on Saturday.
FINAL — JD Notae led the Razorbacks with 19 points off the bench and Arkansas wins its third game in a row to move to 5-4 in the SEC. Devo Davis also added 14 points on 7 of 9 shooting in a bench role. They combined for 11 rebounds and three steals as well.
Justin Smith was the only other Razorback in double figures with 10, but four other guys finished with five-plus points. Devontae Shuler scored 19 points on 9 of 12 shooting to lead Ole Miss, which saw its two-game SEC win streak snapped.
:41.1, 2H — Ole Miss’ bench players were just doing the “DEFENSE” chant down 16. Not sure what to make of that. But Arkansas is going to move to 5-4 in SEC play before stepping out of the league to take on Oklahoma State on Saturday.
2:08, 2H — Moses Moody’s first bucket of the game comes with this one well in hand. I was not expecting that to happen tonight. He’s been a little off his game, but his follow lay-in after a JD Notae missed layup in transition pushes Arkansas’ lead back to 17, 72-55.
3:01, 2H — Best game from JD Notae in a while. He just buried a 3 to give Arkansas a little bit of cushion. Razorbacks up 68-52. Notae scored 12 points in the team’s last three games, but he has 12 in the second half tonight and 17 for the game. Eric Musselman has to like the fact Notae has five boards, too.
3:53, 2H — Moses Moody just checked in for Devo Davis after making a bad turnover against the Rebels 1-3-1 zone, and Moody will be at the line when play resumes. He has only three points tonight and is 0 of 2 from the floor in his 15 minutes. Razorbacks lead 65-50. Ole Miss has suddenly made 8 of its last 11 shots. Arkansas needs to close this game by being sharp offensively and sound defensively. It hasn’t been either of those things in the last couple of minutes.
4:53, 2H — JD Notae is fouled under the rim and gets to the line. He cans both shots and Arkansas’ lead is back to 17. Notae has a team-high 14 points, which are his most in a game since pouring in 22 in the blowout loss at LSU.
6:20, 2H — Jalen Tate finds Justin Smith for a 3 at the top of the key. Arkansas up 63-44 after a mini run by Ole Miss. It is Smith’s first 3 since Nov. 28 vs. North Texas. He had missed his previous 10 attempts from deep. Devo Davis and JD Notae each have 12 for Arkansas, and Smith has 10.
8:34, 2H — Justin Smith’s ankle seems to be fine. He just bullied KJ Buffen for a score at the rim on a baseline out of bounds play. Smith is up to seven points, six rebounds and two assists. Arkansas’ lead is 58-38.
9:20, 2H — Jalen Tate knocks down his second 3 of the game to give Arkansas a 56-36 lead. His triple answered the Rebels’ first make from deep in the game. Tate has nine points on 3 of 7 from the floor. Ole Miss is scoring at a .776 PPP rate.
10:00, 2H — JD Notae splits a pair of free throws, and the Razorbacks lead by 20.
10:47, 2H — After Ole Miss ended a four-minute scoring drought, JD Notae lulled his defender to sleep at the top of the key and buried a 3. Razorbacks lead 52-33. He now has a team-high 11 points on 3 of 7 shooting and five rebounds — one off the team lead (Connor Vanover six)
11:49, 2H — JD Notae gets under the rim off the bounce, gets a defender off his feet, draws contact and gets a layup to drop, plus the foul. Arkansas’ lead is 48-31. He’ll be at the line when play resumes. Notae is up to seven points, four rebounds and two assists in his 13 minutes. Connor Vanover has eight, and Devo Davis still leads Arkansas with 10 points.
12:10, 2H — Justin Smith’s layup attempt is blocked, but Connor Vanover swoops in and grabs the miss and lays it in. Arkansas’ lead is 46-31.
14:31, 2H — Jalen Tate drives the lane and is fouled. He was upset he didn't finish there. He’ll be at the line when play resumes. Connor Vanover, on the Razorbacks’ previous defensive possession, blocked his second shot of the night. Ole Miss is scoring at a .775 PPP clip. If Arkansas can get on a quick run it can put this one away early. Razorbacks up 43-31.
15:02, 2H — Devo Davis beats the Ole Miss zone with a free throw line extended jumper. He has a team-high 10 points in 13 minutes. He is 5 of 6 from the floor.
16:40, 2H — Desi Sills threw down a big one-handed dunk in transition then fell nearly flat on his stomach afterward. He popped right back up, but officials stopped play to get him out of the game. He’s been tended to by Arkansas’ strength coach Dave Richardson right now. Hogs ip 41-29.
17:10, 2H — Devontae Shuler and Jarkel Joiner hit back-to-back tough jumpers — long 2s — to pull Ole Miss within 39-29. Justin Smith is limping a little bit. I’ll keep an eye on him.
19:13, 2H — Jalen Tate finds Connor Vanover for a dunk off some nice PnR action up top. It’s Vanover’s second dunk of the night and Tate’s first assist. Vanover now has six points on 3 of 6 shooting. Not a bad showing from him so far.
HALF — Arkansas leads 37-25. Great half from Devo Davis, who added eight points, three rebounds and a pair of steals in 11 minutes. Desi Sills had seven points as well, and Justin Smith, Jalen Tate and JD Notae pitched in five. Connor Vanover scored four points on a dunk early on and a short jumper. Moses Moody did not officially take a shot in the first half. His three points came at the foul line. He has an assist and one of Arkansas’ blocks. Ole Miss scored at a .833 PPP clip. Again, like I wrote in the pre-game notes, the Rebels struggle to score. Offense is not coming easy out side of Devontae Shuler, who has eight points. Aside from him, Ole Miss shot 7 of 21 in the half. As a team, the Rebels missed all nine 3-point attempts.
:50, 1H — After a mad scramble on the floor for a loose ball, it somehow ends up in the hands of Connor Vanover, who knocks down a 6-foot jumper to give Arkansas a 37-25 lead.
2:13, 1H — Desi Sills hits two free throws and the Razorbacks lead Ole Miss 35-23. Sills has seven points on 2 of 4 shooting.
2:40, 1H — Justin Smith takes a feed from Desi Sills at the foul line and challenges Romello White at the rim and gets a layup to go. Connor Vanover then ripped the ball away from White on a layup attempt on the other end. It was Vanover’s best defensive play in quite some time. Vanover has an obvious height advantage, but White is chiseled and strong. His teammates loved it and greeted him with tons of high fives at the under-4 media timeout. Razorbacks up 33-23.
3:33, 1H — Desi Sills knocks a dribble handoff away from KJ Buffen, picks up the loose ball and adds a layup. Razorbacks up 31-21. Arkansas fans were into it, then Devontae Shuler hit a long 2.
4:31, 1H — JD Notae hit a pair of free throws to push Arkansas’ lead to 29-21. Notae has five points in his five minutes on the floor.
4:37, 1H — Desi Sills drove the left side of the lane, got rejected by Romello White and came up favoring his left wrist a bit after a hard fall to the floor. Might be something to keep an eye on. Razorbacks lead 27-21.
6:25, 1H — Jalen Tate buries a 3 from the right wing and Arkansas’ lead is 27-19. Tate has hit six 3s in the last three games. That’s big-time for the Razorbacks offensively. Eric Musselman said after the Vanderbilt win he is underrated as a scorer. He’s been OK tonight, but it’s always a good sign when he’s knocking down perimeter shots. He’s not known for that.
7:18, 1H — Ole Miss has scored the last four points on a pair of short jumpers by Jarkel Joiner and Sammy Hunter. Hunter came into tonight averaging 1.3 points per game and 5 of 13 shooting for the season. Kermit Davis is obviously looking for something — anything — to get his offense going. Arkansas is up 24-19 at the under-8 timeout. Devo Davis leads all scorers with eight points. JD Notae, Justin Smith, Desi Sills and Moses Moody each have three points. Arkansas is shooting 50% from the floor and 2 of 4 from deep.
8:51, 1H — Razorbacks beat Ole Miss’ halfcourt zone. Devo Davis adds another layup off a feed from Justin Smith. Davis then comes up with yet another rebound. The crowd in BWA gave him a small ovation after Ole Miss fouled him in the open court. Razorbacks lead 24-17.
10:22, 1H — Arkansas traps an Ole Miss guard deep in the corner and forces a turnover. Guess who came up with the steal? Devo Davis. He takes the pass and goes end to end for another bucket in transition. He has a team-high six points, and Arkansas is on a 9-0 run. Razorbacks are plus-13 in his six minutes on the floor. Kermit Davis calls for time.
10:55, 1H — Justin Smith gets a contested floater to drop, plus the foul, and Arkansas is up 20-13. Nice run from the Razorbacks after the Rebels had a bit of early momentum on their side.
11:32, 1H — Devo Davis rebounded his own missed free throw and got a floater to fall from the left short corner. He’s been great in the game’s early stages. He then rebounded Ole Miss’ missed shot on the ensuing defensive possession. Arkansa up 17-13.
11:35, 1H — Devo Davis with a really impressive sequence to send us to the under-12 media timeout. He deflected a pass in the lane defensively, jumped and grabbed it, swerved through several Ole Miss defenders in transition and got a tough floater in the lane to go, plus the foul. He will be at the line when play resumes. Arkansas leads 15-13. The Razorbacks are plus-6 in his four minutes in the lineup. Luis Rodriguez leads the Rebels with six points, Devontae Shuler has four and KJ Buffen three.
12:39, 1H — Jalen Tate drives the lane, gets a rim protector off his feet and finishes at the rim. Razorbacks have a 13-11 lead. It’s Tate’s first bucket of the night. Some of his moves and methods scoring around the rim can look really unorthodox, but he’s effective inside the arc for the most part.
14:29, 1H — JD Notae gets in on the scoring with a 3 from the top of the key. His triple ties the game at 11. Davonte Davis credited with the assist.
15:29, 1H — Desi Sills stops the bleeding with a 3 from the right wing out of the timeout. Jaylin Williams, who checked in for Connor Vanover at the first media timeout, passed up a 3 to get a better one. Still wish he would pull the trigger from deep more. He has a great touch.
15:52, 1H — Moses Moody’s second turnover of the early going turns into a dunk for Devontae Shuler. He then scores at the rim the next time down the floor. Rebels have scored seven straight points and lead 9-5.
16:39, 1H — Jalen Tate has a pair of turnovers early on. His second was a lob pass to Justin Smith from near midcourt against Ole Miss’ 1-3-1 zone. The pass hit the rim, and the Rebels wound up getting to the line on their ensuing possession. His first resulted in a Luis Rodriguez dunk. We’re tied 5-5.
18:32, 1H — Ole Miss throws its extended halfcourt zone at the Razorbacks for the first time and Arkansas gets a Connor Vanover dunk out of it. Great find by Moses Moody, who hit Vanover on a baseline cut as he drove the left side of the lane. Arkansas up 5-2. Ole Miss calls for time.
19:11, 1H — Moses Moody is fouled shooting a 3 in the left corner off a feed from Desi Sills. He hits all three free throws to get Arkansas on the board. The student section is pretty full tonight. Should be a fun crowd if the Razorbacks play well.
19:15, 1H — Jalen Tate turned the ball over attempting to hit Moses Moody on Arkansas’ first possession of the game. COuldn’t tell if the pass was off line, but Moody was not expecting the pass. Ole Miss then airballs a 3 on its first possession.
Arkansas' starting lineup: Jalen Tate, Desi Sills, Moses Moody, Justin Smith and Connor Vanover.
Second straight start for this group and 10th of the season. It has scored at a 1.36 PPP clip over 22 possessions together in SEC play.
Tate put together arguably his best performance as a Razorback at Vanderbilt, scoring 25 points to go with eight assists. He has knocked down 5 of his last 9 attempts from 3-point range, giving Arkansas a needed boost from the perimeter. Tate has been solid defensively of late, too, coming away with eight steals in the last two games.
Moody bounced back from a subpar showing against Auburn with a 25-point effort against the Commodores. He made 9 of 12 shots inside the arc in the win. Smith also played well in his third game back from ankle surgery, adding 12 points and seven rebounds. He has 12 rebounds in his last two games and nine have come on the offensive end.
Despite experiencing some offensive struggles a couple of weeks ago, Arkansas ranks fifth in the SEC in offensive efficiency, scoring 103.5 points per 100 possessions, per KenPom. If the Razorbacks can clean up their interior defense a bit – opponents have hit 54.5% of their 2-point looks in league games – they can perhaps go on a run as the back half of conference play begins.
Ole Miss' starters: Devontae Shuler, Jarkel Joiner, Romello White, Luis Rodriguez and KJ Buffen.
The Rebels come into tonight's game as one of the best defensive teams in the country. According to KenPom data, Ole Miss boasts the No. 16 defensive efficiency rating in college basketball, allowing 90.4 points per 100 possessions for the season. Its DER in SEC-only games is 98.0, which ranks third in the league.
The issue is the Rebels have a difficult time scoring. They scored 64 and 61 points in their last two wins over Mississippi State and Texas A&M. Ole Miss is No. 12 in the SEC in effective field goal percentage and 3-point shooting, 13th in offensive efficiency and last in free throw shooting. Shuler and Joiner, who is a transfer from Cal State Bakersfield, are the two most ball-dominant players on the Rebels' roster. Shuler leads the team in scoring at 14.9 per game.
Rodriguez averages 6.8 rebounds per game, and White trails him at 5.4. White is a very talented forward from Arizona State. He has been very efficient this season inside the arc, finishing 69% of his attempts. He also leads the SEC in free throw rate, taking more than one shot at the line for every field goal attempted.
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