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 four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Razorbacks find rhythm in 2nd-half burst
Arkansas forwards Jalen Graham (11) and Trevon Brazile (2) celebrate a basket made by Graham, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, during the second half of the Razorbacks’ 99-58 win over the San Jose State Spartans at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The way Arkansas dominated the second half against San Jose State, the No. 11 Razorbacks could have gone scoreless in the first half and still won.
Arkansas pulled away to beat the Spartans 99-58 on Saturday in Walton Arena after outscoring San Jose State 59-23 in the second half.
The Razorbacks made 197 passes, Coach Eric Musselman said, and they had 22 assists while shooting a season-high 62.7% (37 of 59). They shot 75.9% (22 of 29) in the second half.
“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Spartans Coach Tim Miles said on San Jose State’s postgame radio show. “They’re an immensely talented team.”
The second half was in stark contrast to the first half, when the lead changed hands 12 times and the game was tied four times before the Razorbacks (7-1) moved ahead 40-35 at halftime.
It was the first time Arkansas had all 13 of its scholarship players available with junior guard Davonte Davis returning to the team after missing the Razorbacks’ 74-61 victory over Troy on Monday night for a personal reason and freshman guard Nick Smith playing his second game after sitting out the first six recovering from a right knee injury.
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“Tonight was the first time that our full roster was together, and I thought we looked like it the first half,” Musselman said. “I thought we struggled a little bit with trying to figure things out.
“I know I struggled as well with substitution patterns and stuff. But I thought the second half the guys settled in and they played with great offensive freedom, and I thought we did a better job defensively on Omari Moore, who’s a really, really talented offensive player.”
Moore, a junior guard, led San Jose State (6-3) with 21 points, but he was held to five in the second half.
Smith, making his first start after playing six scoreless minutes off the bench against Troy, had 16 points and 5 assists in 24 minutes.
“Nick Smith comes back, for really the first time, and he shows you why he’s a guy that’s being talked about on all the draft boards,” Miles said.
Trevon Brazile, a 6-10 sophomore transfer from Missouri, led the Razorbacks with a career-high 23 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
“Brazile is going to be an NBA player for a long time,” Miles said. “He’s really impressive.”
Arkansas junior guard Ricky Council had 17 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals and senior forward Jalen Graham had 11 points and 6 rebounds in 12 minutes off the bench.
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Graham came into the game with 13:31 left and Arkansas leading 57-43 and in 20 seconds scored his first basket. The 6-9 transfer from Arizona State didn’t play against Troy.
“His practice habits this week were the best since he’s been here,” Musselman said. “So without discussing it with anyone, I felt like coming into the game that if I did not reward him with some minutes it would be unfair.
“So I’m glad he got an opportunity to play when the game was in the balance, and played well. Because he’s a really good interior passer, he’s got an incredible soft floater, he’s really effective against zones from an offensive standpoint, right in that middle hotspot that we call it.”
All 15 Razorbacks played and 10 scored.
“It looked to me like a team that had a lot of fun,” Musselman said. “Looked like a team that really enjoyed playing with each other tonight.
“Looked like a team that shared the ball. I think that’s the one thing when you have a talented team is, are you willing to share and let the game come to you.”
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