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Smith out; Graham, Pinion lead Razorbacks past UNC-Asheville

Nick Smith Jr., out indefinitely before Joseph Pinion, Jalen Graham lift Razorbacks past UNC-Asheville in final non-conference game Wednesday night.



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jalen Graham and Joseph Pinion combined for 26 points off the bench and Arkansas scored 32 points off 20 UNC Asheville turnovers for an 85-51 victory Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena.

Before the game, the UA announced starting guard Nick Smith, Jr., will be out “indefinitely” for what was described as “knee management.”

Graham scored a game-high 16 points (8-of-10 FG) to lead a group of four Razorbacks in double figures. Ricky Council IV added 12 points while Pinion and Anthony Black each scored 10 points.

UNCA scored the first points of the game before the Razorbacks made their first seven shots from the field to race out to a 14-4 lead and never looked back.

For the second straight game, Arkansas forced at least 20 turnovers, marking the fifth time this season. The Razorbacks had 15 steals, one off the season-high from last time versus Bradley. (NOTE: The 16 steals versus Bradley were the most by any Musselman-coached collegiate team.)

Five Razorbacks had multiple steals including three each by Makhi Mitchell and Kamani Johnson while Jordan Walsh, Black and Graham each had two. Johnson also pulled down a game-high seven rebounds. Makhel Mitchell contributed three blocked shots and Makhi Mitchell had two.

UNCA was led by Tajion Jones’ 14 points. The Bulldogs were held to 30 points below their season average and their big man Drew Pember, who is among the NCAA top 25 in six categories, was just 1-of-7 for five points with four rebounds.

Arkansas opens SEC play on Dec. 28 (Wednesday) at LSU. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and tipoff is set for 8 p.m.

Ricky Council IV (Andy Hodges /

FIRST HALF: Arkansas 44, UNCA 24

• UNCA scored first but Arkansas made the next two baskets and never relinquished the lead.

• Arkansas made its first seven shots of the game and used a 14-2 run to take a 28-9 lead.

• Ricky Council IV and Jalen Graham each led all players with 10 points.

• Kamani Johnson led all players with six first half rebounds.

• Arkansas shot 63% from the field while holding the Bulldogs to 33.3% shooting.

• Arkansas had 11 assists on 17 made baskets with seven steals.


• UNCA only made eight baskets and committed 11 first-half turnovers.

• Arkansas’ 44 first-half points were its most this season and now has scored at least 40 points in the first half four times. (43 vs Oklahoma, 41 vs South Dakota State and 40 vs San Jose State)

Kamani Johnson (Andy Hodges /

SECOND HALF: Arkansas: 41, UNCA 27

• Arkansas outscored the Bulldogs 13-2 on points off turnovers in the period.

• Pinion led Arkansas with seven points and three assists in the second half.

• After going just 7-of-12 at the line in the first half, Arkansas was 9-of-10 at the stripe in the second.

• Arkansas only had three turnovers in the second half with eight steals.

Makhi Mitchell (Andy Hodges /

Game Notes

• This was the first meeting between Arkansas and UNC Asheville

• Arkansas’ starting lineup was Anthony Black – Davonte Davis – Ricky Council IV – Jordan Walsh – Makhi Mitchell for the sixth game. The lineup is X4-1X and is the most common fivesome this season.

• UNCA won the tip.

• UNCA’s Trent Stephney scored the game’s first points, at 19:33. Makhi Mitchell scored the Razorbacks’ first points on a putback at 18:26.

• Kamani Johnson was the first Razorback sub.

• Joseph Pinion had career highs in points (10), assists (3) and minutes (18:40).

• UNCA entered the game 28th in the NCAA in scoring (81.8 ppg), 20th in FG% (.499), 21st in 3PT% (.396) and 66th in 3’s made (8.8 avg.).

• UNCA’s Drew Pember entered the game 1st in the NCAA in FT made, 4th in FT attempts, 6th in blocked shots (2.92), 11th in defensive rebs (7.75 avg), 22nd in overall rebs (9.5 avg) and 26th in scoring (19.7 ppg).

• Ricky Council IV and Devo Davis each played all 20 minutes of the first half. It marked the 10th time this season Council has played all 20 minutes in a half, and it was the second time for Davis to do so.


Davonte Davis (Andy Hodges /

• This was the fifth time Arkansas has emptied the bench and played all available healthy players.

• Arkansas has won 16 straight in Bud Walton Arena and 35 straight non-conference games in the building.

• Arkansas is 11-1 to start the season. It marks the 22nd time in 100 years of basketball to start at least 11-1. The last time Arkansas started 12-1 was Coach Muss’ first year (2019-20).

Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.