Despite adding a pair of wins to its ledger this week, No. 9 Arkansas suffered a harsh setback on Wednesday in the latter of its two non-conference home games.
When coach Eric Musselman’s squad returns to action Saturday afternoon against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Crimson and Cardinal Classic in Tulsa, Okla., it will do so without reserve big man Trevon Brazile.
The 6-foot-10 Brazile, who poured in a career-high 23 points in Saturday’s 99-58 blowout of San Jose State, tore his ACL in Wednesday’s narrow 65-58 win over UNC Greensboro in a game that was close throughout.
Averaging 11.8 points per game, leading the team in rebounds and blocked shots, and shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc, the sophomore Brazile — who transferred from Missouri — will be lost for the remainder of the season.
The Springfield, Mo., native had two double-doubles and topped the 20-point mark three times in his first season with Arkansas.
That absence creates a big void in the paint for Musselman and the Razorbacks (8-1), who had to put together a second straight strong second half to beat visiting UNCG.
“Often times, you have one guy have an off night or two guys, (but) all the credit goes to UNCG from a defensive standpoint,” Musselman said after his team scored a season-low 21 points in the first half. “But we had a lot of guys play just as not as well as they have. We kind of did it all in one game — not all but many. But I thought down the stretch, our guys played composed.”
With Brazile gone for the season, Musselman will turn to brothers Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, plus Kamani Johnson and Jalen Graham, in the low post. Ricky Council IV — the team’s top scorer — and five-star freshman Jordan Walsh could also play some in the spot.
A brief Southwest Conference rival of Arkansas a century ago, the Sooners (7-2) rebounded from Saturday’s 70-66 loss at Villanova by coming home and beating Kansas City 75-53 in a game that was tied at the half.
In that win, leading scorer Grant Sherfield topped the team for the fourth straight game, scoring 22 of his 24 points in the second half. The Sooners dominated play in the second half by outscoring the Roos 48-26.
Sherfield, a 6-foot-2 guard who transferred from Nevada, drilled 5 of 6 from deep, 7 of 9 from the foul line, and added four rebounds and two steals in the victory. He has scored in double figures of every game so far.
Second-year Sooners coach Porter Moser said the senior played a strong game at both ends of the court.
“I have seen him get cooking before,” said Moser. “I have seen it in practice and seen it in games. I thought he had his best defensive game. That’s what I told him. He played really hard on the defensive end. … He only had two points at halftime, but I thought he was doing a good job defensively.”
In last year’s matchup, the Sooners blew out Arkansas 88-66, using a 49-point second half to run away from the Razorbacks.
Oklahoma trails 16-13 in the all-time series, but the Sooners have been triumphant in eight of the past 12 matchups.
–Field Level Media