Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Razorbacks left smarting from LSU loss
FAYETTEVILLE — In a four-day span the University of Arkansas went from beating Georgia by 30 points to trailing LSU by 31.
The Tigers beat the Razorbacks 92-76 on Wednesday in the Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, but LSU was never in danger of losing after taking a 44-13 lead in the first half.
A week earlier on the same court, the Tigers had to go overtime to beat Georgia 94-92 after rallying from a 10-point deficit with 9:07 left in regulation.
Arkansas (10-3, 2-3 SEC) then beat the Bulldogs 99-69 last Saturday in Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks had a 39-10 run in the second half against Georgia. LSU put a 40-6 run on Arkansas in the first half.
“I just think that as a team we played so well against Georgia, and you’ve got to understand as a young student-athlete that the next game is a completely different game,” Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman said. “So there’s no carryover.”
Musselman said the pounding the Razorbacks absorbed from LSU was one of two games in six seasons as a college head coach at Nevada and Arkansas he had a team fail to play with great intensity.
The other time came in No. 6 Nevada’s 85-58 loss at New Mexico on Jan. 5, 2019.
“We were undefeated and ranked in the top 10,” Musselman said. “So a little bit different than this.”
One thing that was the same: Vance Jackson played in both games.
Two years ago Jackson had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals to help New Mexico upset Nevada, which came into the game 14-0.
Arkansas could have used that type of game from Jackson at LSU, but he was 1 of 8 from the field and scored two points. He did have seven rebounds.
Nevada shot 33.3% and had 14 turnovers in losing to New Mexico.
Those were similar to numbers Arkansas put up at LSU — 34.2% shooting and 15 turnovers.
“I feel like we were getting open shots at the beginning of the game,” said freshman forward Jaylin Williams, who had 7 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals off the bench. “We just weren’t knocking them down. That’s a lot of it, really.
“And we’ve got to be smarter with the ball. Take smarter shots and pass up a good shot for a great shot.”
LSU Coach Will Wade said the only other time he experienced the domination his team enjoyed in the first half against Arkansas was as a Virginia Commonwealth assistant when the Rams held on to beat George Mason 74-64 on March 4, 2012, after taking a 32-4 lead.
“It rarely happens,” Wade said of putting together a 40-6 or 32-4 run. “But you get the pressure going and you get [the opponent] to take the quick shots you want them to take.”
VCU’s victory was in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semifinals and ended George Mason’s season.
Arkansas still has 13 SEC games, a road trip to Oklahoma State and the conference tournament to play, and the Razorbacks only fell from No. 21 to No. 29 in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings after losing to LSU.
“I feel like we just didn’t bring it like we should have,” Williams said. “We just have to come harder next game.”
The next game for Arkansas is Saturday at SEC leader Alabama (10-3, 5-0).
“We’ve got to get better,” Williams said. “We can’t let this happen again. We’ve just got to fight to get better as a team.”
The only Razorbacks who drew praise from Musselman were Williams and freshman guard Moses Moody, who had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals.
“I think Jaylin and Moses put forth effort,” Musselman said. “And other than that, I think LSU out-competed us.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.