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Why Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman said Razorbacks will never play Bellarmine

Louisville Courier-Journal 12/21/2022 Brooks Holton, Louisville Courier Journal

Eric Musselman and the Arkansas men’s basketball team play Louisville on Monday in the Maui Invitational, but there’s another team from the Derby City that has the Razorbacks’ head coach on notice.

That would be the Bellarmine Knights, who on Nov. 9 handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season and the Kenny Payne era, 67-66, at the KFC Yum Center.

“I wouldn’t want to play them,” said Musselman, whose Razorbacks are ranked 10th in the USA TODAY Sports Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll. “You see that game? Those guys — I’ve never seen a team pass the ball so much in my life. I’ve never seen a team not dribble the ball like that.”

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Musselman is referring to a clip from Bellarmine’s win at U of L that went viral on Twitter after the game. On one of the Knights’ possessions, they made eight consecutive passes without taking a dribble before guard Juston Betz buried a wide open 3-pointer.

“It was a work of art,” Mussulman said.

Those getting their first glimpse at Bellarmine basketball through the viral clip said the possession looked like something out of the 1960s. It’s worked for 17-year coach Scott Davenport, who on Monday notched his 400th career victory by beating Campbellsville-Harrodsburg 86-46 at Knights Hall.

Bellarmine’s Justin Betz passes the ball to Garrett Tipton against Louisville. Nov. 9, 2022 © Scott Utterback/Courier Journal Bellarmine’s Justin Betz passes the ball to Garrett Tipton against Louisville. Nov. 9, 2022

“If you move the ball, you move the defense,” Davenport told The Courier Journal after a 65-60 win against Missouri-St. Louis on Jan. 17, 2020. During that game, the Knights totaled 16 made field goals and 406 passes, according to an unofficial tally by former Courier Journal reporter Hayes Gardner.

“How would I describe it? Effective,” Davenport said.

Counting the passes:Counting the passes: The secret behind No. 1 Bellarmine’s smooth offense

Judging by Musselman’s staunch reluctance to schedule Bellarmine, it’s fair to say the Arkansas coach thinks that style of play could be a recipe for disaster against his team.

“We’re not playing that team. I can tell you that,” he said. “We will not schedule them as long as I’m living. I promise that.”

Bellarmine assistant coach Beau Braden replied to a clip of Musselman's comments on Twitter, saying: "That’s too bad, @RazorbackMBB. Bud Walton Arena is one of the best atmospheres in the country, would love to give our players a chance to experience it."

Bellarmine is 2-1 on the season. The Knights’ only loss of the year came Nov. 12 at Morehead State. Davenport and company are currently visiting Clemson and tip off against the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday.

Statement victory:Scott Davenport, Bellarmine basketball building something 'special.' Just ask Louisville

Reach recruiting and trending sports reporter Brooks Holton at bholton@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Why Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman said Razorbacks will never play Bellarmine

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