Malik Monk has been on fire since starting conference play earlier this month.
The five-star shooting guard has averaged 34.7 points in three 7A-West games for Bentonville, with his lowest total being 29 in a 52-45 win over Springdale Tuesday night.
He scored 19 of his points in the second half, including four straight after the Bulldogs had tied the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Those four points came via an alley-oop dunk and a fast-break dunk after a steal and gave Bentonville a five-point lead with 4:13 left. Springdale would manage to pull within two, but couldn’t fully overcome the deficit.
“Really late in the game, I was just trying to get defensive stops and we got them and won the game,” Monk said.
For much of the game, Monk was matched up against Springdale’s Chris Owens, who is widely regarded as the second-best player in the conference.
Owens, who has offers from Oral Roberts and Arkansas-Fort Smith and is receiving interest from several Division I mid-majors, was limited to 17 points on just 4-of-13 shooting.
“He played AAU with me, so I knew his game and I just tried to keep him contained,” Monk said. “It was fun.”
After scoring 10 points in the first half, Monk came out and attacked the basket in the third quarter.
All eight of his third-quarter points were from less than two feet from the rim.
“I just had to attack the lane because they weren’t trying to guard the lane,” Monk said. “They were just trying to guard my shot, so I just had to get (to the rim).”
However, by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it was evident that the one-on-one matchup with Owens was beginning to tire him.
Back-to-back turnovers and three straight missed free throws by Monk led to Springdale’s run that tied the game.
“I wasn’t focused that much really and I was tired, too,” Monk said. “I wasn’t using my legs.”
Ultimately, Monk, who played all 32 minutes, found his second wind and finished the game strong. To go along with his 29 points, he had five rebounds, four steals and one block.
It was his second memorable game in Springdale’s gym during his short high school career.
Last year, he scored 27 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds (eight-tenths of a second) remaining to give Bentonville a 57-56 win over eventual 7A state runner-up Springdale.
The shot, along with his game-winner against Fayetteville later in the week, made SportsCenter and was shown by other national media outlets.
“It’s a tough place to play,” Monk said of one of the oldest gyms in the 7A-West. “I have to bring my A-game every time I play here and that’s what I try to do.”
His performance against Springdale Tuesday night was also only a few days removed from a stellar performance in the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo.
In three-game tournament, Monk averaged 32.3 points and 12 rebounds and was named to the All-Tournament team.
His 97 total points are the fourth-most in the 31-year history of the tournament and surpassed players such as Tyler Hansbrough, Todd Day and John Wall.
Monk’s best game of the tournament came in a 86-73 loss to Chino Hills (Calif.), in which he scored 50 points. That broke Bentonville’s single-game record (breaking his 45-point record set in November) and is the second-highest single-game output in the tournament’s history.
“Springfield was a nice experience, playing the top teams in the nation,” Monk said. “We learned a lot. The 50-point game, my teammates got me open and I was able to knock down shots.”
He was also the tournament’s inaugural dunk contest champion, winning with a 360 alley-oop dunk off the side of the backboard. Monk said it wasn’t something he practiced, but instead that it was “just natural to me.”
In attendance to watch Monk at the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions were Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, Kansas coach Bill Self, Indiana coach Tom Crean and UCLA coach Steve Alford.
That did not affect the way he played, though.
“I just played by game,” Monk said. “They were there over the summer, so I was just playing my game. I’m used to it now, so we just needed to execute what our coaches said we needed to do.”
Malik Monk (Photo courtesy Chris Parker/OzarksSportsZone.com)
Monk Continues Hot Streak
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