Arkansas guard Tramon Mark doubtful for Duke, but OK after scary fall

Arkansas' Tramon Mark is showing dribbling the ball during the Razorbacks' game against Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. (Tim Aylen/Bahamas Visual Services)
Arkansas' Tramon Mark is showing dribbling the ball during the Razorbacks' game against Memphis in the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. (Tim Aylen/Bahamas Visual Services)


FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said he experienced a first during Monday's practice.

"Today was really cool," Musselman said Monday night on his radio show speaking about injured guard Tramon Mark. "We had a player show up in his practice gear that was not going to practice.

"And was struggling to even walk, because his back was so sore. And now the hamstring is also sore.

"I don't know if I've ever seen a guy that there was absolutely zero chance that he was going to practice, and he put his practice gear on. Then he was going around station to station."

Mark, a junior transfer from Houston averaging a team-high 18.4 points, is continuing to recover from a back injury he suffered in No. 17 North Carolina's 87-72 victory over Arkansas last Friday in the Battle 4 Atlanta in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Based on Musselman's comments Monday, it sounds doubtful Mark could be ready to play against No. 7 Duke on Wednesday night at Walton Arena in the ACC/SEC Challenge.

"If anybody is going to play as soon as his body will allow it, it's T-Mark," Musselman said on his radio show. "I mean, he wants to jump into practice [today]. That's not going to happen, but he made great strides from Sunday night to [Monday] at 2:30.

"He was walking [Monday], whereas maybe 24 hours before that he was not walking. So we're hopeful the pain goes away."

Musselman said a spine specialist on Monday looked at results of the tests done on Mark's back and had a positive report.

"[The specialist] read them and he felt good about them," Musselman said on his radio show. "There's nothing we're concerned about from [a structural] aspect.

"It's just about pain tolerance now."

Musselman said he didn't have an update on Razorbacks senior forward Jalen Graham, who missed the Battle 4 Atlantis games because of recurring back issues.

After Mark was examined at a hospital in Nassau on Friday night and underwent tests that showed no significant injury to his back, he was released and returned home Saturday on the team's charter flight.

"T-Mark was in a wheelchair on the travel day," Musselman said when he spoke with reporters on Monday afternoon.

Musselman said he and his wife, Danyelle, visited Mark on Sunday night at his apartment to check on how he was doing.

"He seemed to be pretty good mentally, but he was just kind of still stationary," Musselman said on his radio show. "The trainer had to help him up and down [the stairs] because he lives on the third floor."

Mark, who scored a career-high 34 points against North Carolina, was injured with 1:12 left when he fell hard to the floor making a baseline pass on a drive to the basket. He was taken off the court on a stretcher as a precaution.

"You just want the best for your player," Musselman said on his radio show. "We did have some guys that were pretty shook up and crying and wondering with anticipation how he was doing.

"For about a 3-hour time frame, there was a lot of concern about lack of movement in the legs, numbness.

"But they did a bunch of tests. The test results came back really favorable for T-Mark."

Mark has started all seven games for Arkansas (4-3) and is averaging 29.6 minutes. He's hit 46 of 83 shots (55.4%), including 10 of 25 three-pointers, and is 27 of 38 on free throws.

"It'll be tough, but we'll game plan and whether he can play or not we have to play the game," Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile said Monday of Mark's uncertain status for Duke. "Obviously we know what he can do. We've seen what we can do in the early season.

"We'd love to have him, but if he can't play we'll have to go play without him."

Musselman said "it's not ideal" to be preparing for Duke with Mark being unable to practice.

"A guy that in my opinion is one of the toughest competitors that I've ever coached. I think that's where you start with T-Mark," Musselman said to reporters. "His toughness, his competitive nature and his will to win."