El Ellis scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and No. 14 Arkansas held off Old Dominion 86-77 on Monday night.
With the Razorbacks (3-0) leading by five points midway through the second half, Ellis scored on a breakaway layup and followed with another after a crossover that left his defender flat-footed. That burst ended the first of several modest rallies by the Monarchs (1-2).
Old Dominion outrebounded the Razorbacks by four and outscored them on the fast break by 14, numbers that displeased Arkansas coach Eric Musselman.
“Taking care of the ball A-plus,” Musselman said. “Defensive rebounding, double-F. Transition defense, triple-F. Guarding the 3, there’s no grade it was so bad. Some good and some very poor.”
Devo Davis, Arkansas’ point guard who has yet to have a turnover this season, scored a season-high 16 points. Makhi Mitchell had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Khalif Battle scored 13 points and Trevon Brazile scored 11 for the Razorbacks.
Chaunce Jenkins scored 21 points for Old Dominion, which went 11 of 24 on 3-pointers and got within three points in the second half. A late 8-0 run by Arkansas gave the Razorbacks enough cushion to get through the closing minutes.
Devin Ceaser added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Monarchs, and R.J. Blakney scored 14 points, going 3 of 4 on 3s.
Mitchell is in his second season with the team after transferring from Rhode Island. His 15 points were the most he has scored for the Razorbacks, and Musselman said it was his best game since he arrived in Fayetteville.
“Hopefully he can keep doing that,” Musselman said. “I thought from a maturity standpoint and doing what we needed and doing it with really positive passion, he was really good tonight.”
TB vs UNCG
Brazile played in only nine games last year after blowing out his knee against UNC-Greensboro. Arkansas’ next game is against the Spartans.
“UNCG, they’re good,” Musselman said. “I hope he (Brazile) just comes out and plays. That’s always hard for a player knowing there was an injury against a certain team.”
Arkansas wasn’t as sharp as it had been in its first two games and one of last year’s biggest issues — defending the 3-pointer — was once again a problem for Musselman’s squad.
Old Dominion doesn’t play again until Nov. 22, when it hosts Princeton. Arkansas hosts UNC-Greensboro on Friday.