NIT:

Hogs' season ends thanks to Hoosiers

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, March 24, 2019
Arkansas Razorbacks forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) defends the ball from Indiana Hoosiers forward Juwan Morgan (13) and guard Rob Phinisee (10) during the first half of the NCAA National Invitation Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. The Arkansas Razorbacks fell to the Indiana Hoosiers 63-60.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas Razorbacks forward Gabe Osabuohien (22) defends the ball from Indiana Hoosiers forward Juwan Morgan (13) and guard Rob Phinisee (10) during the first half of the NCAA National Invitation Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. The Arkansas Razorbacks fell to the Indiana Hoosiers 63-60.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The University of Arkansas basketball team had another game that went down to the wire.

It turned out to be the last game this season because Indiana held on to beat the Razorbacks 63-60 in a second-round NIT game Saturday at Assembly Center before an announced crowd of 12,225.

GAME SKETCH

RECORDS Arkansas 18-16; Indiana 19-15

STARS Indiana junior guard Devonte Green (18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and senior forward Juwan Morgan (15 points, 7 rebounds). Arkansas freshman guard Desi Sills (career-high 18 points).

KEY STAT The Hoosiers outscored the Razorbacks 30-10 on points in the paint.

UP NEXT The Razorbacks, eliminated from the NIT, will get a break and then begin preparing for the 2019-20 season.

Arkansas sophomore point guard Jalen Harris hurried the ball up the court after the Razorbacks inbounded with 6.1 seconds left and fired up a shot from about 38 feet with 2.1 seconds left that bounced off the backboard and then the rim as time expired.

"I thought it was good," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought he had a chance.

"We talked about coming in and having an opportunity to participate in this tournament and we were in it to win it. We kind of ran out of time."

Hoosiers Coach Archie Miller said that after junior guard Devonte Green hit two free throws to give Indiana a 63-60 lead, he was supposed to foul Harris before he crossed half court.

"Devonte didn't foul, and obviously the guy got a shot off," Miller said. "If that thing banks in, there's some guys looking around funny. We got lucky."

It was the 14th game for the Razorbacks this season was decided by four or fewer points or went into overtime. They were 6-8 in those games, including a 73-72 victory against Indiana in Walton Arena.

"I thought we played hard enough -- and at times well enough -- to win," Anderson said. "Coming in here I thought we had a great chance of pulling it off."

The game had eight lead changes in the second half and twice was tied.

Freshman guard Desi Sills, who led the Razorbacks (18-16) with a career-high 18 points, hit a three-point basket with 9:10 left in the second half to give Arkansas its final lead at 51-49.

After Sills fouled out with 4:25 left trying to draw a charge, Indiana (19-15) moved ahead 61-54 when junior forward De'Ron Davis hit 1 of 2 free throws.

The Razorbacks pulled with 61-60 on two free throws by sophomore guard Mason Jones with 6.4 seconds left, but they could have tied the game or been ahead at that point.

Arkansas sophomore forward Gabe Osabuohien was 1 of 4 on free throws in the final 1:18 and was fouled when he had a chance for a three-point play. Junior forward Adrio Bailey missed a layup with 43 seconds left.

"You've got to able to make free throws, get loose balls going down the stretch," Anderson said. "We had a couple layups that we missed point blank. You get that and-one, it just changes the whole complexion of the game.

"But give Indiana credit. I thought those guys rose to the occasion and made some plays."

Green, who led Indiana with 18 points and 11 rebounds, hit a three-pointer to put the Hoosiers ahead to stay at 52-51 with 8:38 left. He had seven more points in the final 7:17 and shot 6 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 9 on three-pointers.

"I thought the guy that made a big difference in the game was the Green kid," Anderson said. "I thought he hit some clutch baskets for them."

The Razorbacks missed their final seven shots and finished at 34.4 percent (19 of 55) from the field.

It was Arkansas' second game without All-SEC sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, who declared for the NBA Draft on Monday and left the team. He averaged 16.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

"Dan was a big piece we needed, but at the end of the day unfortunately he wasn't here," Sills said. "We tried to step up, but obviously we didn't come up with a win."

Gafford had 27 points and 12 rebounds against Indiana in the teams' earlier meeting this season.

"We had to pick up the slack a little bit missing out on Dan's points and his rebounding and just his presence being there," said Arkansas freshman guard Isaiah Joe, who scored 12 points. "We had to spread the floor and do a lot more moving and cutting to space out."

That strategy worked well in the Razorbacks' 84-72 victory at Providence on Tuesday night, but they struggled to play as effectively against the bigger and more experienced Hoosiers.

"They packed the paint very well," Joe said. "Getting in the lane was very hard."

Indiana outscored Arkansas 30-10 on points in the paint after Providence edged the Razorbacks 38-36 in that category.

Freshmen forwards Reggie Chaney and Ethan Henderson, Osabuohien and Bailey combined for 13 points against Indiana after having 36 at Providence. They were 5 of 20 from the field.

"It was a different type of game," Anderson said. "The tempo was more at Indiana's pace.

"But our guys had some opportunities. They just didn't score. I think Indiana had a little bit to do with that, but our guys had some open looks. They just didn't knock them down."

Indiana senior forward Juwan Morgan had 15 points and hit 5 of 9 shots and 5 of 6 free throws.

"He's got a great pair of hands, and he's a senior," Anderson said. "You think about it. He's been around a while.

"He's pretty crafty. But I thought we made him work for everything."

Indiana freshman guard Romeo Langford, averaging a team-high 16.5 points, missed his second consecutive game because of a back injury, but the Hoosiers had the players -- as well as the crowd -- to help them win.

The Hoosiers, a No. 1 seed in the NIT because they was among the last four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, played a second home game after beating Saint Francis (Pa.) 89-72 on Tuesday night while the No. 5 Razorbacks had to play back-to-back road games.

"It's tough," Sills said of having postseason games on the road rather than a neutral site. "But at the end of the day we've still got to show up and play."

Anderson had no complaints about the Razorbacks' effort against Indiana.

"When you play a road game, you've got to be able to make plays to keep yourself in position [to win], and we were right there," he said. "It went down to the final horn.

"I'm just proud of our guys. I thought they fought."

Sports on 03/24/2019

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