Just two weeks after being disappointed in his team’s lack of competitiveness during a 97-84 loss at Vanderbilt, Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman was pleased with the effort he saw from his Hogs in Saturday’s 67-64 loss at Baylor.
Of Arkansas’ seven losses on the season, four have come by exactly three points, including the loss to the Bears.
“I’ve never had a season like this at all since I’ve been coaching and I’ve been coaching a long time,” Musselman said. “Like I said, I feel for the locker room. Three games could flip…Four, whatever, yeah. I don’t… I just hope we can figure out a way to continue to get better.”
To the Razorbacks’ credit, they held the nation’s second-best team in adjusted offensive efficiency to under 70 points for just the sixth time this season. It also marked the third straight game that Arkansas’ opponent scored less than 70 points.
The Bears missed 16 of their last 17 shots to end the first half, and they were shooting just 24.2% from the field, while the Hogs were shooting 60.9% on 10 less field goal attempts by halftime. The script flipped in the second half, when Baylor shot 46.2% from the field and went to the free throw line 15 times, compared to the four trips Arkansas took to the charity stripe.
Baylor was in the bonus just under 15 minutes into the game, and that proved to be pivotal. Arkansas forward Jalen Graham said the early foul calls killed the vibe of the game.
“We’re away, that’s all I can say about it,” Graham said. “I’m not too happy about it. There were a lot of things that could have been called both ways, but it is what it is. We’ve just got to keep playing hard and see what we did wrong, the mistakes and just get back on track.”
When asked about the Bears reaching to bonus so early into the second half, Musselman said it changed the game a lot.
“I’m not going to talk about…How much does it change when someone’s in the bonus that shoots fouls as good as their players?,” Musselman said. “It drastically changes the game…I mean, five minutes into a half…”
Though the Bears took more trips to the charity stripe, Arkansas didn’t help itself with 15 turnovers and five missed free throws — four of which came from Graham, who was 0-of-4 at the line. Graham also accounted for four three turnovers along with his four points, nine rebounds and four assists.
“(Three) turnovers from that position is a little bit too much and, like I said, the (three) turnovers and the 0-for-4 from the foul line, we’ve gotta convert when we do get the little chances that we did tonight to get to the line,” Musselman said.
Even after all of the mishaps, turnovers, fouls and missed free throws, Musselman’s team was in prime position to tie the game at the final buzzer.
Davonte Davis was at the free throw line with just two seconds to play, and his missed free throw led to a perfectly executed play called “Dagger,” where the ball was tipped out to a wide open Joseph Pinion in the corner. Pinion took his shot, but it wasn’t on the mark and the Hogs dropped to 0-5 on the road this season.
“Joesph had a good look,” Musselman said. “Just sometimes a shot doesn’t go. It’s tough to ask a guy who sat for that long as well.”
Though his team lost in heartbreaking fashion, the postgame reaction from Musselman was much different than it was two weeks ago, when they lost in embarrassing fashion at Vanderbilt.
One thing that can be said about the Razorbacks right now is that they are fighting when they go out on the court, and that’s all a coach can ask for.
“The one thing that you always want from your basketball team is to play as hard as they possibly can,” Musselman said. “Anybody that was here walked away and saw a great basketball game. I feel for the locker room. They’re giving it all they have. I mean, this is a ranked team at home coming off beating Kansas.”
The Razorbacks (14-7, 3-5) will have another quick turnaround with the Texas A&M Aggies (15-6, 7-1) coming to town Tuesday. The teams will tipoff at 6 p.m. CT inside Bud Walton Arena, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Read the full article here
Leave a Reply