Saturday's game, which No. 9 Arkansas (8-0) won 93-78, was also a homecoming of sorts. Little Rock coach Darrell Walker played for the Razorbacks from 1981-83. He was a member of two Sweet 16 teams in '81 and '83 and the '82 Southwest Conference Tournament champion team. His 1,325 career points are No. 18 all-time for Arkansas, and he ranks fourth in program history in steals (230).
In the 1983 NBA Draft, he was selected in the first round by the New York Knicks and went on to a 10-year professional career.
"I think it's long overdue," Walker said of the matchup. "I have to tip my hat to (Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek) and Eric Musselman for having the vision to to play UA Pine Bluff in football and UCA and us in basketball. I think it's great for the state."
Arkansas and Little Rock met in 2019 in an exhibition that celebrated the dedication of Nolan Richardson Court at Bud Walton Arena.
Little Rock (4-5), which has been plagued by injuries early in the season, stayed in the fight Saturday. At one point in the second half it cut Arkansas' lead to seven, but the Razorbacks kept on and retook a double-digit lead.
Notae and Toney show
JD Notae and Au'Diese Toney were the leaders for Arkansas. Toney was all over the floor, scoring 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Of those points, 16 came in the first half. He grabbed eight rebounds, two of them on offense, and logged two assists.
"He's as valuable to us, really, as anybody right now," Musselman said of Toney. "It's hard to take him off the floor. That's why he played 38 minutes."
In the second half, JD Notae stepped in as the leader. He also had 18 points, 16 of them in the second half. Davonte Davis had a career-high seven assists, and Walker said Davis reminds him of himself during his playing days.
"You don't have to run the plays for him; he still can score," Walker said. "He's a glue guy in this really good team, and he plays hard as heck."
Trouble with the 3
Arkansas has struggled to shoot the ball from 3-point range all season. Entering Saturday's game, Arkansas averaged six 3-point shots per game and were just 29% successful, ranking No. 277 and No. 304 nationally in those respective categories.
Arkansas struggled to make 3-pointer against the Trojans, going 6-for-20. Little Rock hasn't been much better, averaging just 30%. Saturday, though, the Trojans made 38% while attempting more 3-pointers than their average. Defending the 3 was a problem for Arkansas against Central Arkansas on Wednesday. It seemed Little Rock was looking to exploit that weakness if it could, but its own shooting wasn't strong enough.
"Do I think our team's got to be more mentally sharp? Yes, for sure," Musselman said. "Do I think that our team has to understand to play for 40 minutes? We'll continue to look at things to try to improve in that area."
Arkansas hosts Charlotte (4-3) at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Tuesday (8 p.m. CT, SEC Network).
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas basketball wins vs UALR's Darrell Walker, former Razorback star