Another Hogs' loss lets reserves shine

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, February 22, 2019
Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) pushes past Auburn forward Chuma Okeke (5) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)
Arkansas forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) pushes past Auburn forward Chuma Okeke (5) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

AUBURN, Ala. -- In seven previous seasons as the University of Arkansas basketball coach, Mike Anderson never had experienced a four-game losing streak.

Now it's happened twice in six weeks.

UP NEXT

Arkansas men vs. Texas A&M

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 14-12, 5-8 SEC; Texas A&M 11-14, 4-9

SERIES Arkansas leads 103-55

TELEVISION SEC Network

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

Auburn beat Arkansas 79-56 on Wednesday night in Auburn Arena -- after building a 30-point lead in the first half -- to extend the Razorbacks' latest losing streak to four games.

The Razorbacks (14-12, 5-8 SEC), now in 10th place in the conference standings, also have lost at Missouri and South Carolina and at home to Mississippi State since their last victory over Vanderbilt 69-66 on Feb. 5.

"What I saw in the second half, that's a sign we'll respond the right way," Anderson said. "I learned a little bit more about our basketball team in the face of adversity.

Arkansas freshman guards Desi Sills and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson and sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien -- who all have played off the bench this season -- started the second half along with sophomore forward Daniel Gafford and freshman Isaiah Joe with starters Jalen Harris, Mason Jones and Adrio Bailey on the bench.

Sills scored all nine of his points in the second half when he played 15 minutes. The reserves, including forward Reggie Chaney, scored 16 points in the second half the Razorbacks had a 36-34 edge after the Tigers had led by as many as 32 points, 54-22, with 15:54 left and then began substituting frequently.

Auburn (18-8, 7-6) used 15 players, including 10 who got between 12 and 30 minutes.

"Even though the ballgame was out of hand, I thought those guys still played the right way," Anderson said of the players he started in the second half. "I was proud of the guys that came off the bench.

"I thought Desi came in and gave us some toughness that you've got to have on the road."

Auburn jumped out to a 22-1 lead and was in control the whole game, but Tigers Coach Bruce Pearl didn't downplay the significance of beating the struggling Razorbacks.

"That's a really good win for our program," Pearl said. "We have such a great respect for Arkansas and their basketball program and their history in the SEC.

"It was a pretty dominating effort against a good SEC team."

Pearl, who has a 550-215 record in 25 seasons as a head coach, was asked if you could remember holding a team to under 10 points in a game's first 15 minutes when the Tigers took a 39-9 lead.

"Not a team as good as Arkansas," he said.

The Razorbacks' record, Pearl said, is a reflection of the high level of play in the SEC.

"What I would say to the [Arkansas] fans is that the league is as good as it's ever been, top to bottom," Pearl said. "I feel very fortunate to have a good basketball team at Auburn, just so we can survive it, you know?

"Look, Arkansas has won five SEC games. They've beaten LSU at LSU and should've beaten them at Arkansas.

"They can beat anybody on any given night. It's the quality of the league. There's nothing wrong with Arkansas' program."

After the Razorbacks had their first four-game losing streak this season -- against Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss -- they won four consecutive SEC games over Missouri, Georgia, LSU and Vanderbilt.

"We took those tough losses and bounced back and won," said freshman guard Isaiah Joe, who led the Razorbacks with 14 points against Auburn. "I believe we can do it again.

"We've just got to stay together as one and see if we come back. We've got to put this game in the past and focus on the next one."

Arkansas plays Texas A&M (11-14, 4-9) on Saturday night in Walton Arena. While the Aggies are 11th in the SEC standings, they've won three of their last four games.

"We get a chance to go home and hopefully regroup," Anderson said. "I always tell them, let it hurt to midnight or enjoy it until midnight.

"You've got to have short-term memory in this business, because you don't want to have the hangover effect where this game here affects the next one.

"We've got five games left in the conference and I always say, we're still in the hunt for something. We've just got to keep working and keep trying to improve.

"With a young team, inexperienced, you learn lessons when you go on the road."

Sports on 02/22/2019

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