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.
No. 14 Razorbacks upset by UNC-Greensboro
UNC Greensboro guard Keyshaun Langley (0) shoots over Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE — North Carolina-Greensboro gave Arkansas a tough test in its visit to Bud Walton Arena last December.
Less than a year later, the Spartans did more than that. UNC-Greensboro on Friday upset the 14th-ranked Razorbacks 78-72, snapping their 38-game home non-conference winning streak and handing them their first loss of the season.
Eric Musselman-coached college teams had been 58-0 in on-campus non-conference games. Nevada was 22-0 in his tenure, and his Arkansas teams had won 36 in a row.
"We’re trying to schedule to make an NCAA Tournament. When you lose a game like this, it puts a dent in you, quite frankly," Musselman said. "This loss is a loss that’s detrimental because it’s a home game. I’m not going to shy away from that. I’m disappointed that we lost the game.
"It hadn’t happened in a long time, and it happened. ... I’ve talked about other people around the country that this has happened to. Tonight, it happened to us."
The Spartans shot 48.1% for the game and were 9 of 24 from three-point range. The Razorbacks, who entered the game shooting 40.3% beyond the arc, were 4 of 23 from deep.
They had a stretch of 14 straight misses in the loss.
"We just told our guys to stick together for 40 minutes," UNC-Greensboro coach Mike Jones said. "We’ve played some games 25 minutes here, 30 minutes there, but never 40. And we just felt like if we could be ourselves, stick together and play for 40 minutes we’d have a chance."
UNC-Greensboro controlled the majority of the first half and led 38-24 at halftime. Spartans guard Keyshaun Langley torched Arkansas for 18 points prior to the break, including 14 in the final 6:15.
He entered Friday’s matchup averaging 19 points and was fresh off a 26-point performance in the team’s 74-70 loss at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
Langley’s three-pointer with nine seconds to go in the first half — his fourth of the night — gave UNC-Greensboro its largest lead at the time. Tim Ceaser, a 6-9 forward from Marion, made a three with 1:40 left in the half to give the Spartans their first double-digit lead of the game at 33-22.
Arkansas greatly aided UNC-Greensboro with a dozen turnovers in the first half that led to 16 points for the Spartans. The Razorbacks had 13 for the game after recording a Musselman-era low four Monday against Old Dominion.
UNC-Greensboro grew its lead to 15 with 18:11 remaining after five straight points from Mikeal Brown-Jones. Less than three minutes later, Arkansas guard El Ellis went on a personal 6-0 run with a pair of and-1s to trim the deficit to 45-37.
The Razorbacks pulled to within four points twice in a 56-second span midway through the half on layups by guards Tramon Mark and Davonte Davis. But the Spartans answered each Arkansas push.
"I thought they played great. I really did," Musselman said. "They have a lot of veterans. They have a lot of returning guys. ... We didn’t play very well. It’s really bad timing not to play well knowing what our schedule looks like [with] our next home game here then the three games in The Bahamas.
"It was a game that was really important for us to come out and play well and we didn’t do that."
A quick 5-0 run capped by a Brown-Jones layup increased UNC-Greensboro’s edge to 66-55 with 4:37 remaining and forced Musselman to call his second timeout of the night. The Spartans led by at least five the rest of the way.
Langley finished with a game-high 23 points on 5 of 8 from distance, and Brown-Jones added 17. The Razorbacks were led by 21 from Mark and 19 from Ellis.
Arkansas this week gave up 20 threes to Old Dominion and UNC-Greensboro on 48 attempts (41.7%).
"Not getting close enough to guys, not having enough desperation," Musselman said of the team's three-point defense. "If you don't think that we've talked about defending the three, I've talked about it with you guys. It's been discussed. It's up to us to fix it.
"We've got to get back to the drawing board, and we don't have much time before we play three real quality opponents in The Bahamas."
Jalen Graham, the Arkansas forward in his second season with the program, did not play because of a back injury. He also missed exhibitions against Division II Texas-Tyler and Purdue with a back issue.
The Razorbacks return to play next Wednesday against Stanford at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU. It is Arkansas’ opening game at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The Cardinal defeated Eastern Washington 95-70 on Friday to improve to 3-1. Stanford made 12 of 25 three-point attempts and shot 54.8% overall.
"The only good thing about this is it’s still early in the season," Mark said. "We’re about to leave for The Bahamas. We can get right back on track, take it game by game, possession by possession, just lock in. We've just got to do what we've got to do to win a game.
"We just need to win ball games. That’s it."
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