Like It Is:

Razorbacks had no run left in them at end

By: Wally Hall
Published: Sunday, March 24, 2019
Arkansas Razorbacks guard Jalen Harris (5) reacts after a loss in 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 guard Jalen Harris (5) reacts after a loss in 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.

Basketball is a game of runs, but in the final seven minutes yesterday the University of Arkansas Razorbacks were barely walking on offense.

They went 6:58 without a field goal, made only one of their final nine attempts and were eliminated from the NIT 63-60 by Indiana in legendary Assembly Hall.

Outside of some Arkansas fans and a lot of Indiana fans -- more than 13,000 took advantage of NIT prices to see their Hoosiers in person -- it will go unnoticed.

The NCAA Tournament entered its third day with five SEC teams alive to start the day, Ole Miss and Mississippi State eliminated earlier. In the other tournament, the NIT, Arkansas joined Alabama as teams eliminated from the football powerhouse conference.

With five ties and nine lead changes the Hogs-Hoosiers game was decent basketball. With 2:57 to play in the first half Indiana hit a three to ease ahead 28-25. It was their first lead of the game and the first time in this year's NIT that the Razorbacks had trailed.

The debate will be would the UA have won if Daniel Gafford had played, but no one will ever know. It is unlikely the Razorbacks would have gone almost seven minutes without a field goal, however, for the final 5:50 Indiana didn't score a field goal, holding on to the win with free throws.

Gafford declared for the NBA Draft and opted to pass on the NIT, moving to Miami to work with personal instructors. Gafford's best projection for the next NBA Draft is No. 21 but some of the expert analysts have him not going until the second round. So if the big man from El Dorado can work his way to a better NBA Draft Combine in Chicago starting May 24 it will have been a life changing decision for him.

Without him, the Razorbacks picked up some of the slack with better defense, and they challenged the majority of the Hoosiers' shots and forced 13 turnovers, but 5 came in the first 12 minutes and the final 8 in the last 28 minutes.

Half of Arkansas' points came from freshmen Desi Sills (18) and Isaiah Joe (12). Reggie Chaney added two points and three rebounds.

Arkansas' last lead, 51-48, came on one of Sills four three-pointers, but that was with 9:20 to play, and Indiana answered with a trey of its own. Chaney got the final field goal. The Hogs' last six points came on free throws but in the span of no field goals they had turnovers and even a shot clock violation with 4:36 to play and Indiana leading 61-54.

The Razorbacks scrapped, attacked the rim and got to the line enough to close it to 61-60 with 6.1 seconds when they had to foul and send Devonte Green to the line. Green had not attempted a free throw the entire game but led the Hoosiers with 16 points.

He iced them both and a long three attempt by Jalen Harris hit the back of the rim and bounced long. Game and season over for the Razorbacks.

It was a season of highs and several lows.

A season when attendance dwindled and rumors ran rampant.

Not long after the Hog lost, LSU punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 with an interim head coach, and the Tigers were one of the few teams in the NCAA Tournament the Razorbacks beat during the regular season.

On Saturday, not once, not even during the 6:58 field goal drought did the Razorbacks quit. They fought hard to the very end. All that was really on the line for those young men was pride, and they showed they had it even in a tournament very few care about.

Sports on 03/24/2019

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