Muss proud of fight after latest 3-point loss

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman on the sidelines during his game against Troy during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

WACO, Texas — Arkansas basketball suffered another excruciating loss away from home on Saturday against No. 17 Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The Bears won 67-64 at the Farrell Center to hand the Razorbacks a fourth loss by three points in which they had a shot attempt at the end to send the game to overtime.

Arkansas freshman guard Joseph Pinion missed a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer.

After Davonte “Devo” Davis missed a free throw with 2.8 seconds left, the ball was tipped to Pinion by Kamani Johnson and Jalen Graham in a play the Razorbacks have worked on since the summer.

“Joseph ran to the exact spot that we work on,” Coach Eric Musselman said on Arkansas’ postgame radio show. “Just unfortunate.”

Creighton beat Arkansas 90-87 at the Maui Invitational when Razorbacks freshman guard Anthony Black missed a long three-pointer after Trey Alexander hit two free throws for the Bluejays with three seconds left.

Arkansas lost its SEC opener 60-57 at LSU when freshman forward Jordan Walsh missed a half-court attempt at the buzzer after a steal by LSU forward KJ Williams led to two free throws by Adam Miller with 1.8 seconds left.

Missouri held on to beat Arkansas 79-76 in Mizzou Arena when Tigers guard Sean East hit two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, and Black missed a three-point attempt from about 30 feet that fell short of the basket.

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“I’ve never had a season like this at all since I’ve been coaching, and I’ve been coaching a long time,” Musselman said. “Four games could flip.

“I just hope we can figure out a way to continue to get better.”

Arkansas (14-7, 3-5 SEC) fell to 0-5 in road games while the Bears (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) won their sixth consecutive game.

“They’re rolling,” Razorbacks senior forward Jalen Graham said. “For us to come in here and be 0-4 away and still put up the fight that we did and having it come down to the last shot is huge.

“I think we’re going to change things around, to be honest.”

Musselman has praised the Razorbacks’ effort since questioning their competitiveness in a 97-84 loss at Vanderbilt on Jan. 14 in which they were outscored by the Commodores 63-42 in the second half to erase a 10-point Arkansas lead.

“Just like everybody in college basketball — every single team — the Vanderbilt second half we didn’t play with the intensity and the defense that we normally do,” Musselman said. “That was a 16-minute segment.

“There’s been times when we’ve struggled maybe offensively, but we’ve played really hard. For 16 minutes against Vanderbilt, I told [the media] the truth of how I felt about our team at that time, and they’ve certainly bounced back.”

Arkansas led Baylor 35-27 with 19:33 left on a jump shot by junior guard Ricky Council, who scored 25 points.

“This is a tough one, man,” Musselman said. “And so are some of the other games, like the game at Missouri that we put ourselves in position to win and we just didn’t.”

Missouri beat No. 12 Iowa State 78-61 on Saturday to improve to 12-2 at home, where the Tigers’ losses are to No. 9 Kansas and No. 2 Alabama.

When Missouri beat Arkansas in Mizzou Arena, the Tigers rallied from a 67-57 deficit with 5:07 left after Council hit two free throws.

“We just have to try to scrap wins out,” Musselman said. “I mean, the Missouri game, you saw what they did [to Iowa State].

“They’re a heck of a basketball team at their own place. We gave ourselves a chance to win there.

“Should our fanbase like not winning games? Absolutely no.

“But I do feel that the respect [should be there] for how hard an undermanned team is playing — a team that’s banged up — and continues to fight and scrap.

“I’m really proud of how hard our team has played, especially of late. There’s no team that can play harder than what we played today.”

The Razorbacks are missing sophomore forward Trevon Brazile and freshman guard Nick Smith.

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Brazile suffered a season-ending knee injury in the ninth game against North Carolina-Greensboro. Smith has missed 10 consecutive games and 16 on the season dealing with a knee injury.

Musselman said after the Baylor game there’s no update regarding when Smith possibly could play again.

Arkansas senior center Makhel Mitchell played at Baylor after missing the previous game against LSU because of an ankle injury.

Black limped through much of the game with an apparent right leg injury and Musselman said he’s also dealing with a sore wrist. Other Razorbacks are playing thorough ailments, including Council and Davis.

Musselman said Mitchell was expected to miss up to two-and-a-half weeks.

“[Mitchell] comes back and misses one game and suits up and gives us a great minutes on a bad ankle,” Musselman said. “Anthony Black is extremely banged up. He continues to suit up and put forth an incredible effort.

“Ricky Council, obviously with the minutes he’s played has been banged up. Devo’s been bothered by stuff.

“I’m just really impressed with the guys’ effort playing through stuff. Our trainer [Matt Townsend] has done a great job.

“We have a group of guys that are in uniform that are just playing through injuries. I can’t compliment them enough. I really can’t. Because it hasn’t been easy on these guys who are playing a lot of minutes. They’re giving all they got.”