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Razorback men's hoops avoids upsets, rallies for 77-74 win over East Central

#16 Arkansas overcame an off shooting night and a double-digit second half deficit to win its first of two preseason exhibitions.
Credit: KFSM
Arkansas' starting lineup huddles up before tip-off against East Central at Bud Walton Arena.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In a preseason opener that took on the intensity of anything but an exhibition, the No. 16 Arkansas men's basketball team rallied late for a 77-74 win over Division II-school East Central (Okla.)

Rough nights from three-point range (2-16), and from the free throw line (58.6%) saw the Hogs trailing 60-46 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.

 "I am overly shocked at how poorly we shot the ball from the foul line and from three," head coach Eric Musselman said after the game. "Behind closed doors, we have not seen lack of shooting like we did today."

One of the two three-pointers made came during the ensuing 25-5 run that helped the Hogs come back to take a 71-65 lead.

That was sparked by the Hogs backcourt trio of Devo Davis (20 points), JD Notae (17 points) and Chris Lykes (13 points), the three leading scorers for Arkansas. 

Notae started the run with a pull up jumper, followed by a layup from Lykes and the a jumper from Davis to make it 60-52. Notae again hit a pull-up jumper during the run, that one to tie it at 62-62 with 6:19 left in the half. 

East Central took one last lead with a three from Josh Apple (game-high 23 points) to make it 72-71 Tigers with 57 seconds left.

From there, the Razorbacks iced the game at the free throw line, going 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute.

"What this is for, we're trying to figure out who we are. What our holes are," Musselman said.

Post-game notes

- Point guard play: Musselman noted after the game that the team needs better play from the point guard position. One stat of concern was that Arkansas had nine points to 10 turnovers. "I kind of let it go and have watched it and witnessed it. Now I've got to do something about it, and figure out how we can become a team that gets more out of the point guard spot," Musselman said. He did note one positive from the position being a plus-minus of +15 with Lykes on the court.

- Down low: Jaylin Williams and Au'Diese Toney also scored in double digits for the Hogs, each players scoring 10 points. Their biggest contributions came on the boards though, with Toney hauling down a game-high 15 rebounds and Williams adding nine of his own. While they both struggled at the free throw line (8-16 combined), their play down low, including on the defensive end (Williams had three blocks, both players had two steals), ended up being big for Arkansas.

- Next up: Arkansas will play it's second and final exhibition on Saturday, October 30 against North Texas at Bud Walton Arena. 

RELATED: Watch: Musselman reacts to sold out Razorback basketball season

RELATED: Arkansas basketball ranked 16th in AP Poll

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