Arkansas hits new low at home under Anderson

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Arkansas' Jalen Harris gets his shot broken up by Florida's Andrew Nembhard (2) and Kevaughn Allen Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Arkansas lost 57-51.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas' Jalen Harris gets his shot broken up by Florida's Andrew Nembhard (2) and Kevaughn Allen Wednesday Jan. 9, 2019 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Arkansas lost 57-51.

FAYETTEVILLE — Mike Anderson, in his eighth season at Arkansas and 17th as a college head coach, said he has never seen one of his teams shoot as many airballs as the Razorbacks did Wednesday against Florida in a 57-51 loss.

That may be true, but one thing is certain: Statistically, Wednesday was Arkansas' worst offensive performance in Bud Walton Arena in Anderson's tenure, according to KemPom analytics. The Razorbacks' offensive rating - points produced per 100 possessions - of 74.2 is their lowest in a home game under Anderson and second-worst in any game in his eight seasons.



A list of Arkansas’ top 10 worst performances in terms of offensive efficiency under Mike Anderson.

"Defensively they're good, but I talk about with so many new faces it was was one of those bumps we talk about," Anderson said. "We are going to have those bumps throughout the year and that was a bump, so hopefully we can get over it and learn from it.

"It was an ugly game no question about that."

Florida entered Wednesday night's game seventh in the country in defensive turnover rate, forcing a turnover on nearly 25 percent of its opponents' offensive possessions. By the time the Gators carried a 33-22 lead into halftime, Arkansas had given the ball away on 31 percent on its possessions. Florida turned the Razorbacks over 12 times in the first half and even Jalen Harris - second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio - had a season-high three and a lone assist.

For the game, Arkansas committed 16 turnovers - second most in a game this season and most since its home loss to Georgia Tech on Dec. 19. Anderson's three starting guards each had at least three and combined for 10. Reggie Chaney, who played only five minutes in the loss, traveled eight seconds after entering the game in the first half.

"It was not characteristic of our team and how we’ve been playing," Anderson said. "Early on, you could see some of (the nerves). Even in the nonconference, that’s what you saw … Some of these guys, it’s the first time they’ve played in that kind of audience. Sometimes you do have nerves going. But as I said, I just think we’re a much, much better basketball team that we put on display tonight."

After shooting just 37 percent in last weekend's road win at Texas A&M, the offense followed that by hitting just 30 percent of its looks against the Gators - now fifth nationally in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Arkansas made just 6 of 26 3-point attempts and shot itself in the foot with shoddy free throw shooting, connecting on only 15 of 26.

Sophomore guard Mason Jones was the lone Razorbacks player in double figures, scoring a career-high 30 points on 7/13 from the floor, 4/9 from 3-point range and 12/13 at the line. Daniel Gafford was second on the team in scoring with nine points and also added 12 rebounds. Wednesday was the first time this season he was held to fewer than 10 points.

Florida led by as many as 16 points with 9:13 to play, but Jones scored 11 of Arkansas' points in a 19-5 run to pull within two with 1:02 remaining. With a half-minute to go, Jones had a chance to tie the game with a contested runner in the lane but missed. Adrio Bailey - standing with his heels over the baseline - rebounded the miss then couldn't get a layup to fall.

Despite being the only Arkansas player in double figures, Jones said he didn't feel like his teammates let him down or that the loss would carry over into Saturday's game against LSU. Outside of Jones, Razorbacks players finished the game a combined 8/37 from the floor, 2/17 from 3-point range and 3/13 at the foul line.

Joe, who shot 52 percent from 3-point range in December, was 2/9 from 3 and 2/10 overall in the loss. Jalen Harris, who came in 4/30 from deep this season, missed all three of his triple tries. Arkansas' bench players did not score, combining to miss 10 shots and five from distance. It's the first time in the SEC era that the Razorbacks got zero points from its reserves, according to HogStats.com.

"People were just off tonight," Jones added. "It's just something it is because when I'm off the other guys on the team are stepping up. Who knows. It's just one of those nights where everybody was just off and I feel like I had to step up. We just weren't aggressive as we were the last six minutes and we were just too passive, trying to force passes in on double teams and stuff.

"Like coach says, just giddy, but we can learn from this."

Anderson gave his team credit for battling back from 16 points down late in the second half, but the first 30-34 minutes offensively was unacceptable.

"They are a good defensive team," Anderson said of Florida. "But for us to score 51 points at home, that’s something we’ve got to get better at."

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