Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas and previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was the 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Game sketch: No. 14 Arkansas 86, Gardner-Webb 68
Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile dunks the ball Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, ahead of Gardner-Webb guard Brendan Mykalcio during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena.
Why Arkansas Won
After a sluggish start, the Razorbacks found their footing defensively then got rolling on offense just past the midway point in the first half. They never looked back. Khalif Battle again led Arkansas offensively with 21 points in 26 minutes, and Tramon Mark (14) and El Ellis (13) combined for 27 points. Trevon Brazile added 10 points on 4 of 4 from the field.
Why Gardner-Webb Lost
The Runnin’ Bulldogs opened the game 5 of 7 from the field, but were unable to sustain their shot making. Gardner-Webb did not have much off an answer defensively for Battle, Ellis and Mark off the dribble. Runnin’ Bulldogs players outside of Caleb Robinson and Julien Soumaoro did not provide much pop offensively. They were 17 of 38 on layups as well.
Gardner-Webb grabbed a 22-20 lead with 7:50 remaining in the first half after a Soumaoro three-pointer and a pair of Robinson free throws. Arkansas went on to score 28 points in the final 7:33 of the half to carry a 48-36 lead into halftime. The Razorbacks led the final 35:05 of the game and by as many as 26 points.
Player of the Game
Battle was terrific in a reserve role for the second straight game. He knocked down 5 of 9 shots, including 3 of 4 attempts from deep.
Dating to the final games of his Temple career, the guard has scored 20-plus points in 7 of the last 8 games he has played in. He has also scored at least 20 points in the second game of each of the last three seasons.
Battle gave Arkansas a big lift late in the first half when he scored 10 of his 13 first-half points in the last 5:05. And after an 8-of-9 night at the free throw line against Alcorn State, the guard was 8 of 10 on Friday.
Stat of the Game
After Monday’s season opener, Eric Musselman called for greater rim protection from his big men. Arkansas delivered Friday.
The Razorbacks blocked 15 shots in the game, their most since 1995 and the most by a Musselman-led college team. Brazile led the way with five, one shy of his career high set against Illinois while at Missouri.
Makhi Mitchell, the first Razorbacks forward off the bench, pitched in four blocks as well. Baye Fall had two, and Jalen Graham, Jeremiah Davenport, Joseph Pinion and Mark also had one.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs’ top guard and preseason first team All-Big South selection DQ Nicholas was a non-factor Friday.
Arkansas limited the 5-11 guard to 3 points in 26 minutes. Nicholas was 1 of 9 from the field.
Nicholas scored 13 points and made 4 threes in Gardner-Webb’s season opener on Monday.
Razorbacks freshman guard Layden Blocker was not in the arena for the game. Musselman and a team spokesman said the guard was ill.
Musselman did not waste much time Friday making substitutions.
Prior to the under-16 media timeout, Battle replaced Ellis, Mitchell checked in for Chandler Lawson, and Davenport subbed in for Mark.
Graham was the fourth player off the bench and Pinion made 10 players with first-half minutes.
Arkansas is scheduled to face Old Dominion for the first time on Monday, Nov. 13 in Bud Walton Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on SEC Network+. The Monarchs are 1-0 this season with a 71-57 win over Division III Virginia Wesleyan, and they play at Ball State on Saturday.
By The Numbers
97 — Musselman’s win total with the Razorbacks
40 — Points from Arkansas bench players
38.9 — The Razorbacks’ three-point percentage on 18 attempts
18 — Team-high point total for Gardner-Webb’s Robinson
6 — Ellis’ rebound total, matching a career high
5 — Consecutive 2-0 starts for Arkansas under Musselman
3 — Razorbacks wins in as many meetings with Gardner-Webb
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