Finding an empty seat in Barnhill Arena on Sunday took a little effort.
There weren't many available.
Never mind the White team beat the Red, 74-63. Most of the folks in attendance didn't really care.
After a dismal last three weeks to a football season that threw cold water on a red-hot fan base after a perfect September, Arkansas fans needed something to yell about.
Just like the old days in Barnhill Arena, basketball stepped in and grabbed the attention of the fans.
In those days, a poor football season usually meant Eddie Sutton, then Nolan Richardson had a crowd that almost blew up sound meters.
Now the fans have a team coming off an Elite Eight appearance, a highly-ranked group of newcomers and a recruiting class for 2022 that is one of the best two or three in the country.
One of those highly-touted recruits, Jordan Walsh, was in attendance Sunday. Eric Musselman has gotten three of the best 10 recruits since they starting ranking those things about 20-something years ago.
It helped there was some excitement to the game.
The Red team started fast, getting a quick 13-0 lead then JD Notae got hot and everybody else on the White got rolling to a 74-63 win.
Musselman didn't like the White giving up that run to start the game but pulled a positive out of it.
"They (the White team) stuck with it," he said later. "They understood there were a lot of minutes to play. They started sharing the basketball a little bit better. It shows you just how quickly a game can have a 20-point swing."
At times it was a throwback to Eddie Sutton's press conferences after games in the very same room. It looked a lot different 40-something years ago, but Musselman handles those things just as well these days.
Notae showed what Musselman said everybody in the SEC already knows.
"JD's as good of a one-one-one player and as good of a get-my-own-shot guy as anybody in the country," he said. "With that, we also need him to understand he needs to get his teammates involved as well."
Notae did more of that, getting six assists in the game.
"Every team has it's hurdles," Musselman said. "That first year it was 'are we going to be able to rebound enough?' With this team it's going to be what's the quality of shot we take?"
In other words, he's got some guys that like to pull the trigger too quickly at times.
"That's been a re-occurring theme," Musselman said. "We do have some guys that can score. We do have some guys that can break plays off and create for themselves."
Notae, Chris Lykes and Davonte Davis was mainly who he was talking about there.
"They can, at ANY moment, break a play off and beat their defender," Musselman said. "Along with that when you draw an extra defender, pass up a good shot for a great shot. That's got to be a part of our maturing as a team."
You can put Stanley Umede in that group, too, but he's a forward and not one of those guards Musselman was talking about.
"Stan took a runner off one foot with about 1:40, got the ball back and shot a 3," he said. "He made the 3 but that's probably not what we want after a runner off the wrong foot."
Don't worry, though. Musselman isn't.
"It's early," he said. "That's why you do these things to try and grow. You have film and improve on areas where you need improving."
That's what fans are hyped about. His teams have gotten better as the season goes along.
Which puts the Hogs where fans want in late March.
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