Razorbacks report

Coach discusses Devo’s T

Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) is shown during a game against Florida on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Gainesville, Fla. (Photo courtesy Arkansas Athletics)
Arkansas guard Davonte Davis (4) is shown during a game against Florida on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Gainesville, Fla. (Photo courtesy Arkansas Athletics)

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas men's basketball Coach Eric Musselman did not want to comment specifically on the decision of the officiating crew to apply a Flagrant 2 foul and ejection on guard Davonte "Devo" Davis with 4:41 remaining in the Razorbacks' 78-77 win over Texas A&M on Tuesday night.

Official Doug Shows told the broadcast crew at Walton Arena the flagrant technical was called because Davis kicked Aggies forward Andersson Garcia in the private parts.

Davis went up for a shot in the lane and his foot was in contact with the lower body of Garcia, who fell backward and stayed down on the court for a while during the video review.

"I was surprised that he was ejected, I will say that," Musselman said. "He had the ball in his hands ... and it was live action, right?

"Devo does some unorthodox things with his body. Again, I don't want to comment on that particular play, but when Devo does go in for layups, he does leave off both feet differently. Sometimes he goes off his right foot. Sometimes he goes off his left foot when he finishes.

"But I will say that referee crew that that we had, I think those guys are all really, really good, and they're really experienced referees."

The game was worked by Shows, Terry Oglesby and Olandis Poole, all veteran SEC officials.

Garcia, who went 5 for 5 from the floor, missed both technical foul free throws to keep the Hogs ahead 70-60.

Davis, who has four technical fouls this season per Hogstats.com, was also ejected during a home loss against Kentucky last season.

"When a player has the ball in their hands and is making a move towards the rim, I don't think anybody can know what was going through Devo's mind other than him," Musselman said.

Musselman, who has had three ejections per Hogstats.com and multiple other technicals during his five seasons with the Razorbacks, said he has talked to Davis about the issue.

"Devo and I have had conversations, and we want him to be who he is," Musselman said. "We want him to be aggressive. We want him to play with, you know ... but certainly don't want anything that will jeopardize. ... When he's not in the game or gets a technical, it changes our demeanor and who we are, so we certainly want him to not. ... We don't want anybody to get a technical, including me, I guess."

Davis had a plus-10 rating in the plus-minus category, the highest on the team, against the Aggies.

Battle untested

Guard Khalif Battle did not play in the Hogs' win over Texas A&M, the first "DNP" at Arkansas for the 6-5 transfer who is second on the team with 12.1 points per game.

Minutes were also limited for guards Keyon Menifield (12:31) and Layden Blocker (0:17) and nonexistent for Joseph Pinion against the Aggies.

"I don't think it's about any one player," Coach Eric Musselman said when asked about Battle. "We can't keep playing 11, 12 guys. When we do that, the game is not in our favor. We've historically been a program that's played seven or eight guys. We're trying to pare the rotation down."

Musselman said the staff evaluates practices and games and that there are only "so many minutes" to go around.

"Both sides of the basketball are important," Musselman added. "Offense is as important as defense and if not defense may even be a little more important here at Arkansas. So it's just a whole bunch of factors with all of our guys.

"But certainly I think going forward the rotation will probably not expand. I think it's expanded way too much. You know, I've been doing it long enough that the question is going to come whoever doesn't play on a certain night."

A Stute analysis

South Carolina shooting guard Myles Stute will not be available for today's game as he is scheduled to miss a couple of weeks with a left shoulder strain.

Stute, a transfer from Vanderbilt, came out of the Gamecocks' 74-69 home loss to Georgia on Tuesday at the 10:57 mark of the second half after getting tangled up with RJ Melendez, who was whistled for a hook-and-hold flagrant foul.

Stute is third on the team with 9.9 points per game, behind Meechie Johnson (17.3) and B.J. Mack (13.6) and fourth with 3.9 rebounds per game.

Shot blockers

The Razorbacks blocked nine shots against Texas A&M to move past Appalachian State into the NCAA lead with an average of 6.7 blocks per game. Arkansas is averaging 7 blocks per game in SEC play.

The Razorbacks have made shot blocking a team-wide trait, as no Arkansas player ranks in the top 125 in the country nor in the top six in the SEC. Trevon Brazile is seventh in the league with 1.35 blocks per game, while Makhi Mitchell and Chandler Lawson are tied for ninth (1.24), and Jalen Graham is 17th (0.92).

Coach Eric Musselman said rules change that made it harder to take charges led to a philosophy change.

"The decision was to go vertical and to try to become a little bit better shot-blocking team," Musselman said, adding the initiative went beyond the players at the 4 and 5 spots.

"As a program, as a coaching staff, you've got to kind of alter your approach," he said. "It'll be interesting how this unfolds as we continue to get into SEC play, but at this juncture we do lead the nation in that category.

"You always want to try to create some type of identity with some stat that you can kind of hang your hat on and that's been the stat thus far from a defensive standpoint. In Year 1, it was leading the nation in defending the three."

In 2019-20, the Razorbacks held opponents to a Division I-best 27.2% three-point shooting.

Weather change

The Gamecocks left Columbia, S.C., on Friday with the temperature at about 56 degrees to arrive in Fayetteville, where the projected high was 19 degrees heading to an overnight low of about 4 degrees.

The projected weather for the noon tipoff at Walton Arena is 18 degrees and sunny, headed for a high of 23 degrees.

Muss 'bobble'

A limited number of Eric Musselman bobblehead figures will be handed out as a promotion today. Bobbleheads of Musselman and mascots Big Red and Sue E were created and sold this year by the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame, which celebrates a national day on Jan. 7.

"I mean, bobbleheads, I thought they went out," Musselman said jokingly. "Now they're back in. Probably should have done a bobblehead with [his wife] Danyelle and I together. That would have been a lot better than just me standing there.

"Not sure about the hair. Not sure about the facial expression on that bobblehead. I guess there's some similarities, but also some not similarities."

Gamecock series

Arkansas holds a 23-15 edge in the series against South Carolina, with all games taking place since the programs joined the SEC for the 1991-92 season.

The Razorbacks won the first six meetings and also the past three, giving the Gamecocks a 15-14 edge in the games in between.

Arkansas leads 12-5 in home games, 8-8 in road games and 3-2 at neutral sites.

The Gamecocks' last win at Walton Arena was a 79-77 decision on Jan. 29, 2020, in which Arkansas never led. Hogs guard Isaiah Joe missed a would-be game-winning three-point shot at the final buzzer.

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