An Ugly Win, Hog Pitchers By The Numbers & The Story About A Longhorn Crybaby & The “Convict”

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Q. We start off with two questions about the Hogs win over New Mexico State in Buffalo.
Pigsfeat asks: Was that the ugliest game you have ever seen? I mean, I’m tickled that we won and are headed to Sweet 16. But, surely we could never shoot that badly in a game again…could we?

And The Hawk Hawkins wants to know: How did we win that game against NM St.?
I know defense is important but the offense was flat awful. Charles Barkley and the other TV guys kept talking about how awful it was and it wasn’t just because of the defense.

A. It WAS because of the defense. Eddie Sutton used to tell his players from time to time, You spend so much time focusing on scoring, your defense is bad. I think the opposite can be true. Muss said that in order to limit Teddy Allen, the Aggies high scoring guard, his guys had to use a defensive scheme they hadn’t played before. It worked but in making it work I think these guys were out of sync on the other end of the floor.

So how did they win? Let’s start with the defense because both of you are right. The 53 points Arkansas scored won’t win you many games. But while most fans were focusing on the missed shot, JD Noate was setting an Arkansas NCAA Tournament record of 8 steals in a game. Some of those steals led to points on the other end. Then there was Jaylin Williams. He set an Arkansas NCAA Tournament record of 15 rebounds in a game. Think of all the great players that Eddie and Nolan had at coming up with steals and rebounds. Guys like Cory Beck and Corliss. Noate and J-Will exceeded what they did and it happened in the same game.

There there is Au’Diese Toney. He held Allen to 12 points. The kid scored 37 against UCONN. Also New Mexico State scored 70 points against UCONN, just 48 against the Hogs.

Now let’s look at that bad offense. In a four-minute stretch just before half time Arkansas outscored New Mexico State 10-2.

In a two-minute stretch of the second half, 8:06 to 6:07 left in the game, the Hogs went on a 9-0 run. From one down to up by 8.

Those six minutes on the clock gave the Razorbacks just enough of a pad that the Aggies were forced to foul late. It was a three-point game with 1:18 left. Arkansas went 7 for 8 from the free throw line in the last :41 of the game. That’s offense and that decided the outcome.

Q. David Simon says: I couldn’t agree more about the defense but the outside shooting woes of this team has to be a concern. Great D can only carry them so far. At some point they are going to have to score some real points.

A. To me Gonzaga is a totally different game. Arkansas goes from being the hunted to the hunter. The hunter is more aggressive.

It’s not like Arkansas hasn’t been able to score points this season. In four games against teams with Gonzaga-type talent Arkansas averaged 72 point per game.

So I wouldn’t worry about shooting 14 for 51 and 3 for 16 from three point range against Gonzaga. I think they’ll do better than that.

Q. TL Slaten says: I can’t believe some of the stuff I’m reading on Facebook about Arkansas win last Saturday. Three seasons under Musselman and some of these fans are getting so spoiled that they care more about style points than winning.

A. I’ve read some of that stuff. One lady said he got so mad she decided to do her laundry and missed the second half. Another guy said he was embarrassed by Arkansas’ play and won’t watch the Gonzaga game because it will be a blowout.

I’ll tell you what Nolan said. He said he liked it because it was some of the best defense he’s ever seen.

The complaints ae coming from a small percentage of the fans. Most of them are happy that the Hogs are still playing while the rest of the SEC is sitting at home watching. I’m sure fans of the other 13 SEC teams would trade places in a heartbeat.

Q. Posting after the win over Vermont, Tamra Danner Melton said: SEC refs look better after seeing these tonight. Thank goodness they got the last review right.

A. The NCAA refs are calling the game closer than SEC refs who were probably given a mandate to cut down on fouls called. The NCAA refs did blow an out of bounds call which they reviewed for several minutes. It’s mystifying how they can’t see what the game announcers and fans watching at home can clearly see. But it worked out later because, as you mentioned, a critical out of bounds call against Notae was reversed after a review. That was huge. It might have ended up deciding the game because it broke Vermont’s momentum as the Catamounts tried to come back.

Q. On the fan board Cat’s illustrated, ia/UKfan asks: If Cal is fired or resigns, who are legitimate options to replace him? Bennet from Virginia comes to mind or Pearl, Musselman. As a last resort… Pitino

A. This is hilarious. Kentucky fans have been throwing shade at Hogs fans on the Internet ever since that loss to Arkansas in Bud Walton. Now they bring up his name as a replacement for Calipari who clearly is not going anywhere. This is what happens when fan get arrogant and spoiled by past successes.

Q: Richard Rush says: I guarantee you 100% of everyone’s bracket is blown.

A. That’s the main reason why I stopped filling out brackets several years ago. It’s pointless. If you use logic for your picks your brackets will usually be destroyed the first weekend. Making random upset picks doesn’t appeal to me because the only way you come out on top is to make ridiculous picks and get lucky. Each year, out of millions of brackets, the number still on track is reduced to a few thousand after the first weekend and most of those people don’t know anything about basketball. They’re just making random picks.

Q. To baseball now, H. McCamish wants to know: Do you feel better about Ark’s pitching after the Kentucky series? Last week you said that we were hitting the ball better but the pitching took a dip before SEC play started.

A. Absolutely. The starting pitching and the bullpen were solid. The weekend rotation is now a combined 10-2 on the season. Connor Nolan went 6 1/3 on Friday night. Gave up 6 hits. One run, with just 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.

Saturday Hagen Smith went 6 innings, gave up 5 hits, 3 runs with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.

Sunday Jaxon Wiggins had his best day. Six innings pitched. just four hits, no runs, four walks and 8 k’s.

Let’s look at the bullpen.

Evan Taylor pitched on Friday and Sunday for a total of 2.2 innings. Gave up just two hits, 1 run, no walks and 2 strikeouts.

Brady Tygart pitched 2 innings of relief on Sunday. Gave up one hit, no runs with no walks and a strikeout.

Kole Rammage closed out game one, going one inning, giving up 2 hits and a run with no walks and 2 strikeouts.

Zebulon Vermillion was just about perfect. He pitched 3 full innings, gave up no hits, no runs, a walk with 5 strikeouts.

That’s 8 2/3 innings of relief, with 5 hits, 2 runs allowed. One walk and 10 K’s.

Not bad at all.

Q. Hog in Iowa wants to know: Since all reviews now go to Birmingham for a decision to be made, do those guys know what the call on the field was before they make their ruling?

A. Just like in football, all baseball reviews are done remotely. There is no need for the umps to explain the call on the field to the the reviewers because they are watching the game. I suppose if they lost focus and didn’t see the call in question they could ask the umps for help but I’m told that doesn’t happen. BTW they blew a call at second base on Sunday. In the bottom of the 4th Brayden Webb hit a pop up into shallow left center. Jalen Battles went from first to third on the hit and Webb tried to stretch it into a double but the ump called him out on a throw to second. The replay clearly showed Webb’s hand touching the base before the tag. But after about 5 minutes of reviewing the people in Birmingham decided he was out.

This is why I say get rid of reviews. They waste our time and still get it wrong.

Q. To spring football where OkieBack says: It is relaxing to see the coaches out here for the 3rd season with systems in place, the players working on their assignments and getting better. I prefer this type of program over the question marks 4-5 years ago wondering if we were going to beat an SEC opponent or not next season.

A. Because of our NCAA coverage I was only able to see the first practice but I was impressed by the lack of screw ups. The players did seem to be fully prepared. I’m looking forward to the next three weeks of it after spring break is over.

Q. About a story published in The Athletic that an anonymous high school 5-star recruit has signed an million dollar deal with an unspecified school’s NIL collective, Razorbax says: This is getting ridiculous. Wild wild west.

A. Keep in mind that the information that story was based on came from anonymous sources. The sports media is rapidly losing credibility with fans because they don’t seem to care if those sources turn out to be wrong. It’s like they think people just forget about the original story if turns out to be wrong. They won’t.

A key part of this story makes no sense. Supposedly this unnamed kid is going to start getting paid well before signing day. This is against NIL rules and since this story is already out there you can be sure that the NCAA is going to investigate that part of the deal once this school and high school player is revealed.

My guess is this story was hyped to get views or clicks.

Q. Hogfan46 says: I think Hornsby could be a great weapon for us aside from purely a QB. Utilizing him as a hybrid, a combo of Deebo Samuel and Taysom Hill, would utilize all of his skills. With his speed, he needs several touches a game and we should get creative making that happen.
Thoughts??

A. We might see something like that this spring but so far there’s no evidence of it. Pittman has not mentioned such a possibility. One of the biggest points of emphasis this spring is to develop a strong backup at QB to KJ Jefferson. My guess is Hornsby will have his hands full trying to make sure he is that backup.

Q. @mousetown wants to know: Is John Chavis back in coaching or is that just a rumor? Supposedly the story on him at Arkansas was that he was just trying to build his retirement up and he wasn’t really into coaching anymore after a long career. Did he run out of money?

A. First of all the story that he took the Arkansas job just to secure a better retirement was never acknowledged by Chavis and there’s no real evidence of it other than the defense seemed to go downhill under him the last season.

I think Chavis was in a bad situation. The offense under Morris was awful. As time went by the players on the team began to let go of the rope. A lot of them wanted Morris gone. That affected the defense.

Chavis is the defensive coordinator for the Birmingham Stallions of the USFL. He will also coach linebackers. I can’t imagine that he took this job because he is broke. Sounds like he still likes coaching. It will be interesting to see how Birmingham’s defense performs.

Q. Bloodredhog says: Kevin Kelley quit as head coach at Presbyterian College less than a year into the job. Do you know why? Does he plan to coach again?

A. I’m sure the bad first year he had didn’t help. Kelley has a reputation for developing high scoring offenses and things were looking good right off the bat. Presbyterian College won its first two games 84-43 and 68-3. But the situation completely reversed itself after that. The Blue Hose starting getting blown out. They lost nine straight with scores like, 72-0, 63-43, 70-35, etc.

But supposedly Kelley told friends that he didn’t get the support from the school administration that he was told he would have and he was worried about the transfer portal. If he got the program back on track some of his athletes would simply use that as an opportunity to hit the transfer portal to better the own situations.

Right now he’s in demand as a speaker at coaching clinics. Supposedly he can make almost as much doing that has he can coaching. People who know him claim he will coach again.

Personally I think he took the wrong approach. Jumping from high school to the college level as a head coach is too much in one bite. A better strategy is to take a job as an assistant coach and work your way into a head coaching job. I have to believe there’s a school out there who would want him as an offensive coordinator. Take a job like that and move up to bigger schools with a goal of learning under a really successful head coach like Sam Pittman did with Kirby Smart at Georgia. It would take time but pay off in the end. Of course, along the way, Kelley would have to put some really good offensive units onto the field.

Q. Finally, Lanny asks: Do you have any funny stories from your coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament over the years?

A. In 1990 at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Dallas, Arkansas was playing Texas at Reunion Arena for the right to go to the final four. With just a few seconds left in the game The Longhorn’s best player, Travis Mays, fouled out trying to steal the ball from Ron Huery. Huery went to the line to ice the game and a Texas guy on press row almost started crying as he said out loud for all of us to hear, “What kind of justice is this? Travis Mayes, a wonderful role model, is out of the game while that convict is out there winning the game for them.”

Huery was clearly not a convict and the guy could have been sued. But it was so funny nobody cared about that. In fact when Huery was told about it he just laughed.


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