Arkansas falls again, 75-74, as Vandy hands Hogs worst SEC start in 8 years

By Kevin McPherson

With the Razorbacks trailing by a point, senior guard JD Notae missed a potential game-winning three-point shot at the buzzer as Arkansas is off to its worst start in SEC play in 8 years while Vanderbilt snapped a 7-game skid against the Hogs with a 75-74 win on Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

Now having lost 4 of its last 5 games including 4 straight against teams ranked in the NCAA NET Top 100, Arkansas (10-4, 0-2 SEC, NCAA NET No. 90 entering Tuesday’s game) has started 0-2 in league play for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Adding to their frustration, the Hogs lost at home in BWA for the first time through 9 games this season. Counting their last 8 home games of the ’20-21 campaign, they had won 16 straight games at BWA before Tuesday’s defeat.

Until Tuesday, the Commodores (9-4, 1-0 SEC, NCAA NET No. 77 entering Tuesday’s game) had not beaten Arkansas since Feb. 2, 2017 — a 72-59 road triumph at BWA. Vandy has extended its current winning streak to four games.

The Razorbacks are now 2-4 against teams ranked in the NCAA NET Top 100 (wins over Cincinnati and Kansas State, and losses against Vandy, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, and Hofstra). Arkansas is 0-2 in Quad-1 games, 2-1 in Q2 games, 2-1 in Q3 games (includes the Vandy loss), and 6-0 in Q4 games.

Head Hog Eric Musselman dropped to 55-23 overall leading Arkansas, which includes a 22-18 mark against SEC teams. His head-to-head record against Vandy and ‘Dores head coach Jerry Stackhouse slipped to 3-1.

Once again for the Hogs, it was a myriad of team shortcomings that did them in: Poor three-point defense (Vandy made 10-of-25 from distance for 40%), poor free throw shooting (the Hogs were 18-of-28 for 64.3%, compared to the Commodores’ 19-of-26 for 73.1%), too many unforced turnovers (several self-inflicted wounds among their 14 giveaways), and another lost rebounding battle (35-28 for minus-7 on the glass).

But despite all the issues, Arkansas had its chances to win in the end. The Hogs trailed by 6 points, 74-68, with 45 seconds left in the game, but on the strength of a Notae layup and 4-of-5 free throw shooting they pulled within a point, 75-74, with 15.5 seconds showing on the clock. But it was the lone missed free throw — on the back end of two attempts by senior guard Chris Lykes, whose steal under the Hogs’ basket led to him being fouled — that prevented Arkansas from tying the game.

After Vandy missed both of its free throws with 9.2 second remaining, the Hogs secured the defensive rebound and had two shots at winning the game. The first was from senior combo forward Stanley Umude, whose driving 10-footer was blocked out of bounds with 1.1 seconds left. After the Hogs called a timeout, Notae received the inbound pass outside the arc on the left side of the floor and launched his triple attempt that bounced off the rim.

With his Naismith Hall of Fame father courtside watching, junior 6-3 guard Scotty Pippen, Jr., finished with 22 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists to pace the Commodore before fouling out in the final minute. Sophomore 5-11 guard Trey Thomas made 5-of-7 from 3 for his 15 points. Junior 6-6 forward Jordan Wright kicked in 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, while senior 6-1 guard Rodney Chatman made 2-of-2 from distance as part of his 11 points

Umude — he was coming off a season-high 19 points in Arkansas’ 81-68 road loss against Mississippi State on Wednesday — led the Hogs with a season-high 28 points (11-of-20 field goals, including 3-of-7 from 3, and 3-of-4 free throws) to go with 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 turnovers. Senior combo forward Au’Diese Toney scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half as he also finished with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block playing off the bench.

Notae, who missed the MSU game with an undisclosed illness, started in his return and contributed 16 points (6-of-17 field goals, including 1-of-7 from 3, and 3-of-6 free throws) to go with game-highs of 5 assists and 5 steals. Sophomore big man Jaylin Williams tallied 6 points (1-of-2 field goals and 4-of-7 free throws), a game-high 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, and 3 drawn charges. Lykes’ made free throw and sophomore wing Jaxson Robinson’s triple at the start of the game accounted for the rest of the Razorbacks’ scoring.

Next up for Arkansas is a road matchup against SEC foe Texas A&M on Saturday, Jan. 8.

Musselman sent out a starting five of Notae, Davis, Williams, Umude, and Robinson.

Umude started where he left off in Starkville, Miss., last week as he tallied 18 first-half points, many of which were at the the heart of a 16-5 Arkansas run that flipped a 17-12 deficit into a 28-22 Hogs lead with 8:15 remaining in the first half.

Notae and Williams did their part, too, chipping in 9 and 6 points, respectively. Notae also had team-highs in assists (3) and steals (3) in the first 20 minutes while Williams contributed 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and a drawn charge.

The Razorbacks led by as many as 9 points in the first half and were up 40-35 at the break.

Arkansas shot a blistering 15-of-24 from the field in the first half, including a solid 4-of-10 from 3. Defensively, the Hogs yielded 12-of-27 shooting (44.4%) by Vandy, including 5-of-12 from 3 (41.7%). The Hogs made 6-of-10 from the free throw line while the ‘Dores hit 6-of-8 at the line.

The Hogs were minus-4 on the glass in the opening half (15-11) but they were plus-1 in turnovers (9-8) and plus-5 in points-off-turnovers (16-11). Arkansas held a slight edge in points-in-the-paint (16-14) in the first 20 minutes while going plus-4 in blocks (4-0).

Leave a Reply