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NCAAB: No. 12 Arkansas follows Davonte Davis’ lead vs. Oklahoma

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It was a slow start to the season for Arkansas’ Davonte Davis.

The sophomore guard averaged just 6.3 points per game in the Razorbacks’ first six.

But over the last three, Davis has become an offensive force.

Heading into Saturday’s game against Oklahoma in Tulsa, Okla., Davis has scored 16 or more points in victories over Central Arkansas, Little Rock and Charlotte. That includes a season-high 18 in Arkansas’ most recent game, Tuesday’s 86-66 home win over Charlotte.

After Davis’ early struggles, Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman talked with Davis, encouraging him to be more aggressive with dribble drives, pushing things in transition and facilitating.

“We just want him to get out in the open floor and know he has freedom with the ball in his hands,” Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said.

That conversation has paid off not only in his scoring from the field, but in getting to the free-throw line more consistently and bumping his assist numbers.

In the first six games, Davis attempted just four free throws and averaged 2.8 assists per game. He has 14 free throws and has averaged 6.0 assists in the last three.

Davis’ growth has been crucial, especially at a time when Arkansas’ outside shooting has struggled.

The No. 12 Razorbacks (9-0) are shooting just 28.5 percent on 3-pointers this season. Over the last six games, that’s been even worse, shooting 20.6 percent from behind the arc, including 3 of 13 against the 49ers.

“I still think the lid is going to kind of come off,” Musselman said. “We do it in practice, but we haven’t exhibited it in a game yet.”

The Sooners have been among the nation’s best in defending along the perimeter, holding teams to just 27.5 percent on 3-pointers.

Oklahoma (7-2) is coming off a 66-62 overtime loss to Butler where the Sooners had problems from distance themselves, going just 1-for-9 from beyond the arc over the last eight minutes of regulation as an eight-point lead evaporated.

Umoja Gibson missed three of those, then two more in overtime and was just 2-for-11 on threes.

“I fall in love with the three too much on my part, on my end of the stick,” Gibson said. “I’ve got to be more aggressive, get downhill, make plays for other guys, attack the rim, which I know I can do.

“I just got greedy on the 3-point line.”

The Sooners continued to be led by Tanner Groves, who is averaging 14.9 points per game, and Gibson, who is averaging 11.3.

JD Notae is one of three Arkansas players averaging double figures in scoring with 18.7, while Au’Diese Toney is averaging 13.1 and Chris Lykes 12.4.

–Field Level Media

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