When it comes to dunking, Trevon Brazile is among the best around. No Arkansas basketball player does that part of the game better.
Turns out the Razorback big man knows how to get a rise, too.
On Thursday, Brazile decided to poke fun at some of the rumors swirling around involving himself and a love triangle involving the Arkansas basketball team. It’s scuttlebutt that might have inspired an idiotic group of Missouri male students to wear drag and hold up questionable signs as they watched their Tigers mostly get wiped off the floor by the visiting Razorbacks on Wednesday night.
Brazile shared the below picture, apparently taken during that Arkansas vs Missouri game, to his Instagram story:
Even while the junior remains sidelined for knee soreness, he and teammate Cade Arbogast (also pictured making the finger triangle) are showing they still know how to make waves. Throw Jalen Graham into that equation too. The Arkansas power forward spun a defensive web around the Tigers, becoming the first Razorback go for 4+ steals, 4+ assists and 3+ blocks in an SEC game since Ronnie Brewer vs. South Carolina in 2004.
Indeed, Graham has put together arguably his best two-game stretch of the season with back-to-back efficient scoring games. Since becoming a starter due to Brazile’s absence two games ago, the former All-Pac-12 performer is averaging 10.5 points, 2.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, 2.0 assists and 1.5 rebounds on 56% from the field. Plus, he’s gone 1 of 2 from the free throw line, an area at which Graham has struggled mightily during his time at Arkansas.
On Thursday, he was all net making light of the love triangle talk with this:
These posts from Brazile and Graham show that members in and around the Razorback team are aware of some rumors circulating online that, frankly, sound preposterous.
Danyelle Musselman, Eric Musselman’s wife, might have been alluding to them on Wednesday when she wrote about “ridiculous” gossip that she feels should be packaged as a story to be sold to Netflix because it “sounds like a three part series (laughing/crying emoji).”
Whatever the actual case, the more these kinds of reactions from within the team emerge, the more the whole thing looks like it may be like a classic game of telephone where information is contorted, misconstrued and exaggerated as it’s passed from person to person.
Just this past summer, serious allegations came out online against former Arkansas quarterback Kade Renfro. It’s unknown to what degree these accusations were true, if at all, but the episode serves as a reminder of how quickly a thunderstorm of controversy can gather when student-athletes, supposed illicit activity and a high-profile sports program collide.
Arkansas Basketball Big Boys Get Serious
Meanwhile, the Hogs’ frontcourt is playing better than ever even without Trevon Brazile, the preseason All-SEC selection.
Brazile injured his knee in an ugly 26-point loss at Ole Miss, and afterward Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman was at a loss for words about the rebounding of his centers, pointing out that they combined for no defensive rebounds in nearly 37 minutes.
Since then, however, the trio of Makhi Mitchell, Chandler Lawson and Jalen Graham have stepped up as the key to Arkansas out-rebounding both Kentucky and Missouri. This trio has produced R-rated damage on the boards, combining to average 20 total rebounds over the last two games.
“Certainly feel that that’s an important aspect to us winning basketball games,” Musselman said. “If we don’t rebound in this league, we’re going to really, really struggle.”
The data certainly backs that up, as our own Andrew Hutchinson points out. Even with the loss to the Wildcats, Arkansas is now 9-2 when out-rebounding its opponent, compared to 2-8 when it loses the rebound battle. They haven’t just been rebounding, either. They’re also combining for 31.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks per game over that two-game stretch.
“I think our three-headed bigs have been unbelievable,” Musselman said. “I really do. I think Chandler and Jalen and ‘Khi have been outstanding. Not good, but outstanding.”
Mitchell, who has 12 career double-doubles, now has back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his Arkansas career. He had double-doubles last season with 14 points and 13 rebounds against North Carolina-Greensboro and 10 and 10 against Florida.
When it comes to interior defense, it’s certainly helped that the perimeter players haven’t been allowing opponents as many direct paths to the rim as they were allowing before Kentucky. “I think our quickness with Keyon [Menifield] and Layden [Blocker], it helped us keep the ball in front,” Musselman said after the Missouri win.
“It helped us not get into rotations, so yeah, that definitely helped, and our blocked shots continue to be really solid. Graham had three tonight, and as a team we had six blocks, so that’s been a big strength of ours all year…. tonight it was about stopping the dribble-drive, and maybe schematically on me, we were willing to live on some threes.”
The bigs showing up has been especially important considering Arkansas’ three-point shooting has mostly fallen off a cliff since league play began. The Razorbacks came into the game against issouri shooting 31.7% on three-pointers (124 of 391) on the season and 26.1% (36 of 138) in 7 SEC games.
In the next game on Saturday vs LSU, don’t be surprised to see Musselman go back to the two-bigs lineup consisting of some combination of Mitchell, Chandler Lawson and Jalen Graham again considering LSU’s starting frontcourt consists of two 6-foot-10 or taller players.
See more on Arkansas vs LSU here:
Below, Courtney Mims discusses a similarity between the situation now with Musselman and the Gators’ Mike White in the 2021-22 season: