Pigs claim 108-59 win in opener on trip to Spain and Italy – SWARK Today

By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas took an early 10-0 lead and never trailed and finished with a 108-59 win over Valencia Seleccion in the Razorbacks’ first of four games on their road trip to Spain and in Italy.

Eric Musselman was obviously pleased to see the Hogs stretch who were leading 35-18 after one quarter as they were on their way to an easy win.

“I was happy with a lot of things,” Musselman said. “It also gives us a really good barometer of things we need to work on. I thought we were really, really unruly defensively. We have to become much more solid defensively. But I’m happy that I think we played really, really, really, really, really hard. So happy with that for sure.

It was the first opportunity for Musselman to see his team with just two scholarship players back from last season. Musselman got a technical opinion and asked if it was in English or Spanish?

“Started in English, ended in Spanish,” Musselman said.

Nick Smith Jr. was one of the prizes in the latest recruiting class and although he didn’t start, the talented guard had 21 points to lead the Razorbacks while adding six rebounds and five assists. Not bad for someone who wasn’t even sure whether to play after injuring his finger just before leaving for Europe. Musselman spoke about Smith’s game and health.

“I think Nick did a really good job,” Musselman said. “He didn’t take part in the last week of training. He had a doctor’s appointment on Friday afternoon, but we had training on Friday morning for the guys to loosen up a bit.

“I think he played really well. He got a little sloppy with the basketball, like our whole team did. We got 11 rotations. At least according to (Mike) Cawood. “That’s right. I thought we were sharing the ball and Nick gave us a real punch as well.”

Smith spoke about the condition of his finger.

“The finger was good,” Smith said. “I had a lot of concerns. Our coach Matt (Townsend) had a lot of concerns about what I did to him (last) on Monday. It’s part of the game. You just had to sit down to practice. I feel like we played well today. I feel like we weren’t very disciplined today defensively, but it was the first game of the season and we’ll get to that on Thursday.

The game marked the first as a Razorback for Smith. He reflects on how he felt the flow in his game.

“Coming into the game, I just wanted to come in and play hard,” Smith said. “That was one of Coach’s goals, it was just to work on our stuff. I feel like we executed well, but I still feel like on the defensive side we could play much better, just being more disciplined, that will be key for the rest of this season.

Smith showed off his quarterbacking skills at the range and gave fans a first indication that the finger was going to be fine. Smith said the team was having fun in addition to playing basketball games.

“We’re having fun, for sure,” Smith said. “We came here, our hotel is in front of the beach, so of course we are going to have a little fun. But at the end of the day, when it’s time to play, this team has a quick enough change to lock us in and focus on what we were here to do. But at the same time we will have fun. Coach Muss wants to have fun, the whole coaching staff is having fun, and everyone on the team is bonding. I feel like it’s a great trip for us later. We are going to need it, need the link with the technical staff and the players. It’s a fun trip, but we came here to play basketball games so that’s what we’re looking forward to.

Musselman made it a point to have fun on the trip, but he also liked how the team did it when it came time to get to work.

“It’s really interesting, with six freshmen, with only two coming back, I wasn’t worried,” Musselman said. “Today we did a shoot right by the beach. We did an activity that will be released tomorrow on social media. We played dodgeball on the beach. We played volleyball in the water without a net. But I was confident that they would be up at 2. We had a team meal at 2.00 and they rested a bit and they went out and played like they were supposed to play. But we “We’re focused. We’ve walked all of our sets on the range. We’ve walked defensive cover on an outside court. So we’re working here too, but we’re definitely having a lot of fun, I can promise you that.”

Other key stats for the Hogs include Trevon Brazile, who was 5 of 5 from the field, and Kamani Johnson, who had five offensive rebounds, each scoring 12 points. Ricky Council IV added 11 points and Barry Dunning Jr., 10. Johnson led the way with nine total rebounds and Council contributed eight. Anthony Black delivered seven assists with five rebounds. Jordan Walsh had a well-balanced line with nine points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

Johnson is one of two returning scholarship Razorbacks. Musselman liked what the big man gave him on Tuesday.

“I thought Kamani did a fabulous job for sure,” Johnson said. “He played hard. He came off the bench and played with a lot of energy. I thought he was playing really, really well, that’s what we need a returning player.

Musselman likes, after weeks of training, to see his players in action and now has a tape to watch.

“I thought defensively we had played too much,” Musselman said. “We have to become much stronger. Our athleticism was obviously too much for our opponent. But that said, we have to understand when to play, when not to play. I think our players played really, really hard. And, again, we will now have a tape to evaluate.

We asked Smith who stood out to him in the game?

“Everyone on the team played their part,” Smith said. “That’s what we came and wanted to do. AB had a few assists, Jordan Walsh came in and played hard, Devo (Davis) came in and had a few assists. I feel like the whole team played well. I feel like the whole team can also play better, and it was only the first game, so hopefully on Thursday we will be better and later we will be better for sure.

Arkansas travels to Barcelona, ​​Spain on Wednesday morning and plays Barcelona Todo-Estrella on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT.

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