Like It Is:

Razorbacks disappoint in Nashville

By: Wally Hall
Published: Friday, March 15, 2019
Arkansas guards Mason Jones (13) and Jalen Harris (5) walk off the floor during an SEC Tournament game against Florida on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas guards Mason Jones (13) and Jalen Harris (5) walk off the floor during an SEC Tournament game against Florida on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It wasn’t the worst loss of the season, just the ugliest.

Especially during a second half Thursday when the University of Arkansas had no answers for Florida.

The Razorbacks came to the SEC Tournament full of hope after a three-game winning streak to end the season. This was one final shot at making the NCAA Tournament, but they missed badly — just like their last seven shots did that covered the final 7:57.

Usually you can score one by a lucky bounce, but all the luck went to the better (spoiler alert) defensive and rebounding team.

Florida won 66-50 because its shots went in as the shot clock wound down, and Arkansas’ looks didn’t. A large majority of the shots in the second half were with one or two clicks left on the shot clock on both ends of the court because of the hard-nosed defense both teams played.

Florida played it better in the second half. The Gators held the Hogs to six second-half field goals on 24 attempts for a chilly 25 percent.

The Gators took advantage of the Hogs on the boards, grabbing 19 offensive boards (spoiler alert) because the Razorbacks didn’t block out. Florida scored 18 second-chance points, many of them at the free-throw line.

It started out evenly, and Florida led 30-28 at the break mostly because it controlled the tempo. Midway through the first half, the Razorbacks started running and took a 19-15 lead. Florida Coach Mike White called a timeout, the Gators regained the lead four minutes later, and they never trailed again.

In the second half, Florida stepped up its defense and started attacking the basket. The Gators also outhustled the Hogs to almost every loose ball.

The Razorbacks had just three players make field goals in the second half: Daniel Gafford made 3 of his (spoiler alert) 4 shots; Mason Jones made 2 of 7; and Reggie Chaney was 1 of 2.

With 7:57 to play, the Razorbacks trailed 47-44 after Jones’ putback basket. Of course, they didn’t know that would be their final field goal.

KeVaughn Allen, the North Little Rock native who has haunted the Hogs for four years, hit a three-pointer with 7:25 to play, then he added two free throws and a layup to make it 56-48. It was time to bring out the bows because the Gators had it wrapped up.

Allen finished with 17 points, the second-most points scored. Keyontae Johnson, a 6-5 freshman, led all scorers and rebounders with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

In that final 7:57, the Razorbacks made six of seven free throws.

Some may point at the free-throw shooting disparity— Florida made 16 of 22 and Arkansas 12 of 16 — and say the refs hurt the Hogs. That would not be right. The Hogs fouled a lot after getting beat for rebounds.

The refs were not very good, but they didn’t determine anything other than the game took longer than it should have.

It was a bad ending to a very mediocre Hogs’ season. The Razorbacks finish 17-15 overall and 8-10 in the SEC. They were 1-4 against teams who were ranked when they played them.

Yet, there was a good number of fans here to call the Hogs, more than remembered in recent years, and perhaps that was because the Razorbacks had won those last three games.

Instead of winning four games in four days, the Hogs were one and done, something that had happened to Anderson only three other times.

Now (spoiler alert) the Hogs go home and wait to see if they get an invitation to the NIT, which is the dreaded tournament for those left off the Big Dance card.


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