Battle scores 21 points as No. 14 Arkansas beats Gardner-Webb 86-68
Sat, Nov 11, 2023
NCAAB News (AP)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Khalif Battle had 21 points off the bench and No. 14 Arkansas used a pair of big runs in the middle of the game to beat Gardner-Webb 86-68 on Friday night.
Tramon Mark added 14 points and El Ellis scored 13 for the Razorbacks. Trevon Brazile had 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
After trailing by eight early, Arkansas (2-0) finished the first half on a 17-5 surge and reeled off another 13-4 spurt in the first few minutes of the second to help build a 26-point lead.
Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman, however, didn't like the way his team started the game - nor ended it.
"I thought they ran harder than we did, for sure," he said. "Only win battle of the boards by six is not enough. Give up 11 offensive rebounds is not going to cut it."
Battle keyed the first effective stretch, when Musselman said his team was at its best, by scoring 10 points in under five minutes to close the half. Ellis and Mark led the other charge. The two transfers scored all their second-half points in the first seven minutes of the period.
Gardner-Webb (1-1) put a little scare into the home crowd during the first half. The Runnin' Bulldogs led for almost 10 minutes and didn't trail by more than six points until less than three minutes remained before halftime.
Besides struggling to stop Arkansas after those first few minutes, Gardner-Webb was eventually stifled by the Razorbacks' size. Brazile blocked five shots and Makhi Mitchell blocked four more while also chipping in five rebounds and four points.
Caleb Robinson led Gardner-Webb with 18 points, and Julien Soumaoro added 15.
Arkansas outscored Gardner-Webb 40-19 in bench points. Battle was the Razorbacks' top reserve, and leading scorer, for the second straight game.
"He's been phenomenal," Musselman said. "Battle is a starter. He's just not hearing his name called right away. He's been our most efficient offensive player."
Mediocre starts were the norm for Arkansas during its non-conference schedule last season as the Razorbacks generally put teams away in the final 10 minutes, leading to some tense moments. The Razorbacks haven't had such difficulties in two games this week, even while breaking six transfers into the rotation.
Gardner-Webb plays at No. 20 Baylor on Sunday.
Arkansas hosts Old Dominion on Monday.
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