Devil of a time: Hogs down Duke in front of record crowd

Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile (2) is shown with fans following an 80-75 victory over Duke on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Eric Musselman won’t ever forget his 100th victory as the University of Arkansas men’s basketball coach.

The Razorbacks got Musselman his milestone moment by beating No. 7 Duke 80-75 at Walton Arena on Wednesday night in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge before an announced Arkansas record crowd of 20,344.

Arkansas students stormed the court after the game ended.

“Incredible home crowd tonight,” said Musselman, who has a 100-45 record at Arkansas in his fifth season. “I mean, just an insane environment.

“Real cool to experience that, even as kind of an old guy.”

Senior guard Khalif Battle led the Razorbacks (5-3) with 21 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds off the bench.

“[Battle is] a big-time player,” said Arkansas senior guard El Ellis, who had 9 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds without a turnover. “He really can score the ball at will.

“He’s a better passer than he gets credit for, so those five assists were big. Muss has been on him about rebounding the ball, so to have five rebounds as well, that was big.

“Everybody, we got in there and rebounded the ball well and he had a big game. Shout out to him.”

Arkansas sophomore forward Trevon Brazile had 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Senior forward Chandler Lawson also had 7 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocked shots for the Razorbacks.

“I thought the execution of the game plan tonight was a 10 out of 10,” Musselman said.

Kyle Filipowski, a 7-0 sophomore center and projected NBA Draft lottery pick, led Duke (5-2) with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Blue Devils senior guard Jeremy Roach scored 22 points.

Arkansas bounced back in a big way after losing its previous home game to North Carolina-Greensboro 78-72 and going 1-2 in the Battle 4 Atlantis last week in the Bahamas, where the Razorbacks beat Stanford 77-74 in double overtime before losing to Memphis 84-79 and No. 17 North Carolina 87-72.

Duke (5-2) played at Walton Arena for the first time and was on its first road game this season. The Blue Devils’ other loss was at home to No. 2 Arizona, 78-73 on Nov. 10.

The Razorbacks played without junior guard Tramon Mark, the team’s leading scorer at 18.4 points per game who didn’t play as he continues to recover from a back injury he suffered against North Carolina last Friday.

“Congrats to Arkansas,” Duke Coach Jon Scheyer said. “They played a really good game. We knew they would be incredibly hungry, desperate for this game. They had a couple of tough losses.

“We have a lot of respect for their talent, coaching and what they do. Even with Mark being out, we knew it would be an incredibly difficult game. But we expected to win, so the loss is disappointing.”

Ellis hit two free throws with 37 seconds left to give Arkansas a 77-71 lead. Filipowski’s basket made it 77-73.

Arkansas senior guard Davonte Davis and Battle then each hit 1 of 2 free throws in the final 15 seconds as the Razorbacks held on.

Arkansas outscored Duke 11-2 over a 2:02 span, including 7 points by Battle, to take a 55-45 lead with 11:09 left.

The Razorbacks’ run, capped by Battle’s jump shot, also had baskets by Ellis and senior forward Makhi Mitchell.

“I feel like defensively, we were really good,” Ellis said “That’s what got us that separation.

“And whenever we got that separation, I felt like we just kept pushing. KB came up big with some clutch buckets.”

Filipowski’s layup cut Duke’s deficit to 55-47.

Arkansas then pushed its lead to 60-47 with 9:31 left.

Battle, fouled on a three-point attempt by Roach, hit three free throws.

Brazile blocked a shot by Mark Mitchell and freshman guard Layden Blocker scored on a fast-break layup to put the Razorbacks ahead by 13 points.

Filipowski’s basket made it 60-49, then Battle hit a three-pointer and Makhi Mitchell scored on a layup to give Arkansas a 65-51 lead with 8:15 left.

“I thought his assists were probably the most impressive thing. He drew extra defenders,” Musselman said of Battle’s impact. “We ran a couple isolation plays for him, and he did a good job of reading the defense and reading the extra help. His rebounds were really important.”

Blocker had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, but had 2 of his 4 turnovers in the final 3:04 against Duke’s full-court pressure.

“It’s a tough position trying to break a press,” Musselman said. “A team’s down and they’re coming at you with an extra defender.

“That’s a big-time learning experience for a freshman to be in a game down the stretch against Duke in front of the largest crowd in the history of Bud Walton.”

Senior guard Jeremiah Davenport hit a pair of three-pointers in the final 1:42 of the first half to give the Razorbacks a 33-32 halftime lead.

The Razorbacks led the entire second half after the first half featured 16 lead changes and eight ties.

“I walked into the building thinking that we were going to win tonight,” Musselman said. “No one feels sorry for you.

“I thought our guys, they responded. We talked the last two days like we were going to win the game. We weren’t coming in here hopeful. We thought we were going to win if we did X, Y and Z, and we did that.”

Arkansas outrebounded Duke 40-34 and had 17 assists and 10 blocked shots.

“We won the battle of the boards,” Musselman said. ‘We went to our depth a little earlier than normal. We had a couple of guys make threes that maybe hadn’t.

“Our guys had great belief and knocked down some shots that we didn’t in Nassau.”

The Razorbacks were happy to celebrate Musselman’s 100th victory at Arkansas as well as beating Duke.

“I’m happy for him,” Ellis said. ‘He deserves it. He comes in every day, first one in the gym working.

“I’m excited just to be a part of that 100th win, and that’s something I can share with him.”