Arkansas Answers Challenge

Razorback head basketball coach Mike Anderson and assistant Melvin Watkins spend their Saturday afternoon and night watching a plethora of their recruiting targets as Arkansas teams down Memphis squad 3-2 in the Battle of the Border.

LITTLE ROCK – With Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and assistant Melvin Watkins looking on Saturday, Arkansas took a second straight Battle of the Border from Memphis.

But there is little doubt that this year's 3-2 record in the restarted challenge event was more impressive than last season's 4-0 sweep.

Super sophomore and prime Razorback recruiting target KeVaughn Allen poured in 29 points and senior Thomas Alexander added 20 as North Little Rock clinched the advantage with a 75-44 drubbing of Memphis East.

"We flex our muscles today," Arkansas Hawks AAU coach and event organizer Bill Ingram said. "Even though Memphis East had played (Arkansas signee) Moses (Kingsley) and his team last night in Kentucky and I know their legs were gone, North Little Rock put on a clinic.

"You have got to give the Arkansas teams credit," Ingram added. "There use to be a wide divide, but it's all even now. We will probably even have a better field next year. The days are gone when there was separation – where we were here and they were there. It's even now. Last year was not great team. This year's was and we got it done."

In the day's other games, Jacksonville whipped Olive Branch (MS) 76-61, Little Rock Parkview edged Memphis Hamilton 81-80 and Memphis White Station downed Razorback signee Bobby Portis' Little Rock Hall team 59-53 in the finale.

Portis had 16 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks shots in his team's game.

Allen had 20 of his points in the opening half as North Little Rock jumped out 34-12 at one point and led 49-20 at halftime.

"We wanted to jump out on them early and not let up," noted Charging Wildcats head coach Johnny Rice, who replaced retired head coach Richard Alexander this summer.

He certainly lauded the 6-3 Allen's performance and his character.

"I told somebody the other day that I grew up in North Little Rock, played for North Little Rock and have known every player here for the last 35 years," Rice said. "He is the most humble and coachable kid that I have ever been around and you can see what a great deal of talent he has. He played great tonight."

Allen praised the entire team's effort.

"We are just learning how to play together and we shared the ball and just played really great," Allen said. "We just wanted to get out on the break and the floor. We practiced that and so it was just easy in the game."

"When I am down, they keep my head up and help me develop and get better," Allen said.

Allen saw Anderson and Watkins on the baseline.

"I love the way they play and get after it and I think that later on in the year they are going to be really, really good," Allen said.

North Little Rock and LR Parkview will meet Thursday night in the opening round of the Jammin' for Jackets tournament in Little Rock.

"I am looking forward to being a part of that game for the first time," Allen said. "We are going to practice hard this week and just keep on doing what we do and get prepared."

O o o

Memphis White Station 59, Little Rock Hall 53

White Station sophomore Nych Smith had a game-high 26 points while Leron Black added 11 to lead their team to the back-and-fourth win.

Portis had 12 of his 16 points and 8 of his 14 rebounds after halftime.

Arkansas junior target Davelle Roby – battling a hurt back – had seven points, including a big 3-pointer late while fellow Razorback junior recruit possibility Chris Chiozza added six points.

O o o

Little Rock Parkview 81, Memphis Hamilton 80

Missouri junior commit Anton Beard had a game-high 28 points while junior Daryl Macon added 21 and Mississippi State signee I.J. Ready had six points before being ejected in the second quarter after a skirmish.

Freshman K.J. Lawson had 20 of his 26 points in the second half while his year-older brother Dedrick added 17.

Both of the Lawsons, who led their team back from a double-digit deficit with two minutes left, have offers already from Arkansas.

O o o

Jacksonville 75, Olive Branch 61

Senior Justin McClearly, who joined Arkansas signees Portis and Kingsley on the Arkansas Wings' 17-and-under national championship team had 30 points to lead Jacksonville to the win.

Memphis football commit Sam Craft had 37 for Olive Branch.

O o o

Memphis Lausanne 72, Little Rock McClellan 59

Murray State point guard signee Cameron Payne had 18 points, 8 rebounds, six assists and five steals while leading his team to the win.

All 72 of Lausanne's points came from its five starters.

Jason Hendrix and Terrance Jones had 12 points each to lead McClellan.

The game was the first high school game for Nnamdi Collins and Maxwell Omili - the Lions' duo of 6-8 ninth graders who moved here from Africa before the start of their eighth grade school year.

Collins had seven points while Omili added two.

KeVaughn Allen

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