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.
Ellis the epitome of a PG in Hogs' 3rd win
Arkansas guard El Ellis goes up for a layup during a game against Old Dominion on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The only thing more certain than Eric Musselman walking on a treadmill each day is the Razorbacks’ fifth-year head coach getting some reading done during his workout.
On Monday, Musselman highlighted thoughts on top-tier point guard play from Duke women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson, who was coached at Tennessee by the late Pat Summitt. He then handed Louisville transfer El Ellis the sheet of paper with those quotes.
Ellis was the epitome of a point guard in Arkansas’ 86-77 victory over Old Dominion.
He finished with a team-high 17 points on 7 of 11 from the field, 8 assists and no turnovers in 33:50 in the lineup. The Razorbacks outscored the Monarchs by eight points when Ellis was on the floor.
“El has done a really good job of asking for feedback on what we’re looking for,” Musselman said. “He’s a guy that...understands what areas [we] want to see from him, which is taking care of the ball. And then, quite honestly, late game, we’ve played three regular-season games and in this particular game [in] late-game we went to El.
“It was him in middle pick-and-roll to try to get to the basket.”
More from WholeHogSports: Additional coverage of the Razorbacks' 86-77 win over Old Dominion
Ellis was hard to guard in the second half. He scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime and got 6 of his 8 field goal attempts to drop.
Six of Ellis’ points came in the final 7:57. And he assisted on a layup by forward Makhi Mitchell with 3:13 to play that put Arkansas ahead 81-73.
“El is tremendously quick,” Mitchell said. “Shit, by the time I set the screen, [he’s] gone. I try to do my best of rolling even though I don’t want to get in his way when he’s going to the rack. Tremendous credit to him.
“I like playing with him as a teammate. Eight assists is great.”
Ellis’ 8 assists generated 21 Arkansas points, and the Razorbacks were 5 of 7 from three-point range immediately following an Ellis pass.
Through three games, Arkansas players are 12 of 18 (66.7%) beyond the arc when set up by the guard.
“For El to transfer in here, Coach, his biggest emphasis is on doing winning things, and he did that tonight and he’s going to continue doing that for our team,” said Temple transfer Khalif Battle, who knocked down a catch-and-shoot three in the right corner after a feed from Ellis on a baseline-out-of-bounds play.
According to Sports Reference, Ellis is the first Arkansas player since Jalen Tate in December 2020 to finish a game with at least 17 points, 8 assists and 0 turnovers.
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“Coach always gets on his tail in practice about having that winning mindset and that winning culture,” Mitchell said of Ellis. “[Musselman is] always joking about us beating up on him in Hawaii [last season, an Arkansas win over Louisville at the Maui Invitational]. For him to take that and then his willingness to learn and grow as a player and fitting into our culture and stuff like that, I think that’s big for him.
“He’s an experienced guy. He’s on a roll and I’m definitely looking forward to what he’s capable of going down the season.”
Mitchell added that Ellis is “elite” getting downhill with the ball in his hands, drawing multiple defenders, then finding an open teammate. Monday night is likely the kind of performance Ellis envisioned when he signed with the Razorbacks in the spring.
“I really wanted to come out and take good shots, and my offense came to me,” Ellis said. “I am a natural-born scorer, but I am really here to show I can facilitate a team and run a team.
“I feel I like I showed that.”
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