FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Ricky Council scored a season-high 27 points and No. 11 Arkansas used a 17-0 run late in the second half to hold off Troy 74-61 on Monday night.
Council scored 13 of Arkansas’ final 19 points as the Razorbacks outscored Troy 19-3 in the final 6:25. The Trojans missed seven of eight during the stretch while Arkansas (6-1) made seven straight field goals.
“Ricky in Maui (Invitational) became our go-to guy,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “He’s really tough to stop going to the basket. He draws free throws attempted. His mid-range pull-up game, he rises over people. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Troy (6-2) made nine 3-pointers to maintain a lead for a bulk of the game, but went just 1 for its final 8 from deep. Arkansas countered in the paint, outscoring the Trojans 46-26.
Arkansas made just three 3-pointers, but Council made one from about four feet beyond the 3-point line during the run to give Arkansas a four-point lead.
“It was huge. I thought it took spirit away from Troy, where it was the breaking point from a spirit standpoint,” Musselman said.
Makhi Mitchell joined Council in double figures with 14 points while grabbing nine rebounds. Anthony Black scored 14 points for Arkansas and had eight rebounds.
Nelson Phillips led the Trojans with 22 points, 18 of which came from 3-pointers.
Arkansas freshman Nick Smith Jr. made his debut, checking in with 14:08 in the first half. Smith is a projected lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft, but had missed Arkansas’ first six games because of a knee injury. He didn’t score, going 0 for 2 from the field in six minutes. He didn’t play in the second half. Musselman said after the game Smith was on a minutes restriction.
“He probably could have waited to put on the uniform until Saturday but he wants to be a great teammate and he wants to contribute,” Musselman said. “Game one is out of the way, which I think is a good thing. What he did tonight, it’s really, really hard.”
DAVIS TAKES LEAVE
Arkansas announced a half-hour before tip that junior guard Devo Davis would be “taking some time away from basketball,” per a statement from coach Eric Musselman. No reason was given for Davis’ leave nor was a timetable for potential return mentioned.
Davis has been a three-year starter for the Razorbacks and averaged 8.5 points in 31 minutes a game this season.
Arkansas has just three guards in its rotation with the loss of Davis, who was the team’s secondary ball-hander behind Black, but Smith's improving help should alleviate Davis' absence.
Arkansas: Hosts San Jose State on Saturday.
Troy: Travels Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.