Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Hogs take bite out of Tigers
Arkansas guards Davonte Davis (4) and Anthony Black (0) run off the floor during a game against LSU on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Fayetteville.
Davonte “Devo” Davis was the most invaluable player in Tuesday night’s crazy 60-40 win by the University of Arkansas over LSU.
The junior made the big plays, did the dirty work and two of his three assists put the Tigers on the ropes for the last time.
Arkansas was leading 50-35 against a surging LSU team which outscored the Hogs 13-2 to open the second half when freshman Anthony Black drove through the lane, dished to Davis, who made a no-look pass back to Black behind the arc for a three-pointer.
Less than two minutes later, Davis made a perfect lob pass to Jalen Graham for a dunk and a 57-36 lead with 5:24 to play, and the Razorbacks had regained the momentum, mostly after Eric Musselman turned up the heat on defense.
Give the Tigers credit. At the half, they looked like a team who had not only lost their way but all their shots.
Arkansas went into intermission leading 38-14 as the Tigers were just 3 of 25 from the field.
They missed inside and out. They turned it over on open shots and forced first-year head coach Matt McMahon to burn two timeouts in less than two minutes.
McMahon brought three players with him from Murray State and added a couple of more walk-ons, but outside of a conference-opening win over the Razorbacks it has been learning about the SEC the hard way.
LSU has lost seven consecutive games.
It actually seemed odd to watch a team that was obviously hastily amassed to not be long, lean and athletic.
Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis used to say, only half jokingly, when he was an assistant for John Brady at LSU that its recruiting budget should be a tank of gas.
The current LSU roster has only three players from the state of Louisiana and only one played.
McMahon should have a learning curve. The guy can coach. He led Murray State to the NCAA Tournament last year, where it knocked off San Francisco.
Coaches were not lined up to replace Will Wade who had recruiting violation issues and left the program in a dumpster fire as players left town before the NCAA posse could arrive.
McMahon was 154-67 at Murray State, and the Oak Ridge, Tenn., native just needs time, maybe lots of it.
Outside of not being able to throw it in the ocean at high tide, the Tigers had no answer for Davis who was the undisputed court general for the Razorbacks.
He took only 8 shots, but made 7, including 2 of 2 on threes, had 7 rebounds and is as good an on-ball defender as there is in college basketball.
In the first half when Arkansas went on a 15-0 run to take a 30-11 lead, Davis did more than score. The guy keeps passing lanes open and the ball moving.
He hit a three, and Black followed with a three to make it 36-13 for a 21-2 run.
LSU looked miserable and played worse, but the Tigers did fire out in the second half to make it a 11-point deficit a couple of times.
Their zone defense gave the Razorback problems, and they were 3-of-14 shooting in the first 12 minutes of the second half. But when Musselman called for the heat, the Hogs handled the Tigers defensively and attacked the zone.
The Razorbacks are now 14-6 overall and 3-5 in SEC play and will face Baylor, which knocked off Kansas on Monday, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday in Waco at 3 p.m.
Baylor is 15-5 for the season and 5-3 in Big 12 play and riding a 5-game win streak.
It could be dicey for the Razorbacks if they don’t put together 40 minutes of consistency on both ends of the court, but Tuesday night was clearly a step in the right direction for most of the game.
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