Loss leaves Muss unhappy at Maui

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman reacts on the sidelines as his team takes on Creighton during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman reacts on the sidelines as his team takes on Creighton during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

University of Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman was in no mood to be diplomatic after No. 10 Creighton held on to beat the No. 9 Razorbacks 90-87 Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational in the Lahaina (Hawaii) Civic Center.

After the Bluejays (6-0) hit their lone free-throw attempt of the first half, they hit 20 of 28 in the second half.

The Razorbacks (4-1) finished 13 of 17 on free throws , including 9 of 11 in the second half.

Musselman, speaking briefly on Arkansas’ post-game radio show immediately after the game, was highly critical of the officiating.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Musselman said. “I’ve never seen a foul called like that in all the time I’ve coached.

“A lot of games, a lot of years. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Musselman didn’t specify which foul call he was so upset about, but two of Creighton’s made free throws were by Ryan Nembhard with 13:57 left in the second half after a technical foul was called on someone on Arkansas’ bench.

It wasn’t clear who drew the technical, but Musselman reacted with shock.

Nembhard’s free throws tied the game 53-53.

The Razorbacks were called for 17 of their 22 fouls in the second half when the Bluejays were called for 9 of their 16 fouls.

“Well, we’ll never face more adversity,” Musselman said. “I can’t see it, facing more adversity than we faced tonight.”

Musselman and sophomore guard Anthony Black — who led the Razorbacks with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists — also were upset about the officials not calling a foul after Black made a three-pointer over Creighton guard Trey Alexander with 2.3 seconds left to pull Arkansas within 88-87.

On television replays it appeared Alexander made contact with Black’s arm as he was shooting.

Another costly call for Arkansas was with 29 seconds left after Black hit a free throw to cut the Bluejays’ lead to 85-82. Black also made the second free throw, but it was negated because Jordan Walsh was called for a lane violation.

After Creighton center Ryan Kalkbrenner missed two free throws with 26 seconds left, Arkansas junior guard Davonte Davis made two to pull the Razorbacks within 85-84 with 18 seconds left.

Baylor Scheierman hit two free throws for the Bluejays to make it 87-84, then after Ricky Council missed a three-point attempt for Arkansas, Nembhard hit 1 of 2 free throws for an 88-84 margin.

After Black’s three-pointer, Alexander hit two free throws to put Creighton ahead 90-87.

Black then missed a half-court attempt at the buzzer.

“It was just an incredible college basketball game. There were a lot of haymakers thrown out there in 40 minutes,” Bluejays Coach Greg McDermott said in a post-game news conference. “Their poise for as young as they are is really incredible.

“We didn’t go very deep on the bench tonight … I felt like we kind of had to ride these guys and they did a great job.

“Some execution down the stretch to get Kalkbrenner some touches for some easy baskets, and then we executed at least the last play defensively the way we wanted.

“But that [Arkansas] team is winning a lot of games. I would like to think we’re going to win a lot of games. They just kind of ran out of time. It was just an awesome basketball game against a very, very good opponent.”

The Razorbacks will play in the Maui Invitational’s third-place game against 17th-ranked San Diego State. 

More from WholeHogSports: How to watch, listen to Arkansas-San Diego State

Arkansas again played without freshman guard Nick Smith, a first-team All-SEC pick by the coaches and media in the preseason, who has missed every game this season as he recovers from a right knee injury.

Council, a junior guard, had 24 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

Razorbacks sophomore forward Trevon Brazile scored all 17 of his points in the second half before he fouled out with seven seconds left.

“We couldn’t play any harder than what we played,” Musselman said. “Creighton is a great basketball team. I don’t know what else to say.”

Black, who also scored 26 points in Arkansas’ 80-54 victory over Louisville on Monday, hit 10 of 18 shots against Creighton.

“Anthony has been unbelievable,” Musselman said. “We went to a middle pick-and-roll and got a lot of good looks to score 53 points in the second half, but you can’t overcome what we saw.”

Nembhard, a sophomore guard, led Creighton with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Kalkbrenner, a 7-1 junior, had 21 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Scheierman, a senior transfer from South Dakota State, had 20 points.

There were 10 lead changes and 10 ties in the game, all in the final 16:14 after Council’s three-pointer gave Arkansas a 46-45 lead.

Kalkbrenner put Creighton ahead to stay, 83-81, in a dunk with 1:12 left.

“They’re a great team,” Nembhard said of the Razorbacks. “They got a lot of length.

“They’re big. They’ve got a lot of size. They play really hard. They’re just a good young team. It was a great matchup.”

After Creighton took its largest lead of the game, 40-28, with 1:43 left in the first half on Alexander’s driving basket, the Razorbacks scored the last six points of the half.

Black scored on a driving basket, then after a Creighton miss, Mahkel Mitchell scored on a rebound.

Mitchell blocked a shot by Kalkbrenner and on the other end Black made an alley-oop pass to Brazile for a dunk with 13 seconds left in the half that cut Arkansas’ deficit to 40-34.

The Bluejays jumped out to a 19-10 lead on Nembhard’s three-pointer.

Arkansas pulled within 26-24 on Black’s dunk with 6:04 left in the half.


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