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.
Smith leads Razorbacks to 41-point win
Arkansas players Nick Smith (3), Trevon Brazile (2) and Kamani Johnson (20) celebrate during a game against San Jose State on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — After making his Arkansas debut on Monday against Troy, freshman Nick Smith got his first extended run with the Razorbacks on Saturday.
The star guard helped No. 11 Arkansas cruise past San Jose State in the second half and win 99-58 at Bud Walton Arena. He finished with 16 points on 6 of 14 from the floor and 5 assists.
Smith knocked down 3 of 5 attempts from three-point range.
"I think that first game for any player is a challenge," Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. "Tonight, he played with great freedom, I think, even mentally. He knew there was no minutes restriction on him.
"He changes our team offensively with his ability to make threes and beat people off the bounce."
The Razorbacks took a 40-35 lead into halftime and outscored the Spartans 59-23 in the second half.
Smith had a team-high 11 points and 4 assists in the first half, accounting for 20 of Arkansas’ points. Three of the four first-half assists led to two-point scores, as well as an Anthony Black three-pointer.
Smith played just six minutes in the second half as the Razorbacks continue to monitor his playing time following a knee injury. He scored 5 points, grabbed 1 rebound and added 1 more assist.
Trevon Brazile scored a team-high 23 points for the Razorbacks (7-1). Ricky Council added 17 points.
Arkansas led by as many as seven points in the first half thanks to a 9-0 run that was capped by freshman wing Jordan Walsh’s jumper. Go-to guard Omari Moore kept San Jose State in the game with 16 points and four assists prior to halftime.
The Spartans pulled to within three points twice in the opening three minutes of the second half on layups by Ibrahima Diallo and Sage Tolbert. But it was all Arkansas from there.
"I think (it's) a couple things," Musselman said of the Razorbacks' big second half. "One, I think conditioning is good. I think in the last couple years we’ve been a really good second-half team. Especially coming out of halftime, I think our team plays with a little bit of an edge.
"And then the depth. We just keep talking in those huddles about, 'Hey, wear them down, wear them down. Keep playing hard, keep playing hard.'"
Smith pitched in five points during a quick 8-0 run to make it an 11-point game, then the Razorbacks went on separate runs of 7-0 and 9-0 before the 10-minute mark in the second half.
Jalen Graham contributed 11 points in 12 minutes. Black, the Razorbacks' 6-7 guard, had 8 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
Ten Arkansas players, including walk-on guard Cade Arbogast, scored in the win.
The 41-point victory was the Razorbacks' largest of the season.
"Just playing with great energy," Smith said of the key to the win. "Coming out, I believe the Ricky back-door cut to the basket for a dunk was big for us. Devo (Davis) made a good pass. I feel like we just went up from there.
"Defensively, we were great. I feel like we did a good job defensively."
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