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:
Razorbacks ran out of ammo at Baylor
Arkansas guard Ricky Council IV drives the ball down the court during the first half of a game against Baylor in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
A few random thoughts while waiting on the ice storm.
The Arkansas Razorbacks took a huge step forward on Saturday in their 67-64 loss to No. 13 Baylor.
It was a road game in a pretty hostile environment.
The Razorbacks are not a great outside shooting team but attacked the basket when they could isolate on a defender, and they looked to make good passes inside to the open man. The high percentage shots is why they shot 51% from the floor.
However, they made just 6 of 19 from outside the paint and just 6 of 11 free throws.
Their defense though was tough, tenacious and torturing for the Bears who made just 20 of 59 field goal attempts, 33.9%.
Free throws were the difference. The Bears got to shoot a bunch of them, the Hogs did not.
After every loss this season the hottest topic has been if Nick Smith is coming back or not. Amulti-talented McDonald’s All-American, Smith can create shots inside and out, and he shoots well off the dribble.
However, there are questions, too. What kind of shape is he in after more than a month of managing a knee concern? Who has to give up playing time?
One thing that doesn’t appear to be a problem is chemistry. The trip to Europe last summer pulled these guys together, and they cheer for each other every second of every game.
The word has been that Smith will be back in February. Today is still hours short of February, so he probably won’t be playing against Texas A&M tonight.
The Aggies, 15-6 overall and 7-1 in SEC play, are better than their NCAA NET ranking of No. 42.
What is hurting them are early losses to Wofford (who is 13-10 overall) and Murray State (12-10), plus a late December loss to Colorado (12-11).
Since the loss to the Buffaloes, the Aggies are 9-1. The lone loss was to a surging Kentucky team.
The Aggies are coached by Buzz Williams, who was once mentioned for the Arkansas job when it was open years ago. But at the time he was at Marquette and had the unheard buyout of $5 million.
He went from there to Virginia Tech and became Texas A&M’s head coach in 2019. This team reflects him better than his first two. They are tough, disciplined and dedicated.
Williams is an excellent coach, and he’s squeezing everything out of this team, which is pretty much a mirror of what Eric Musselman is doing at Arkansas.
Williams spent two seasons as an assistant under Billy Gillispie before jumping to New Orleans as the head coach.
The Aggies like the three-point shot a lot.
The sports weekend ended with Philadelphia’s walk-over of quarterback-less San Francisco whose only luck Sunday was bad.
After rookie Brock Purdy injured an elbow, the 49ers next up with Josh Johnson who has played for 14 NFL team since 2009.
His career stats were 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He wasn’t in long, as he was put under concussion protocol after hitting his head on the ground. Purdy came back to finish the game, but he wasn’t himself.
A 90% Patrick Mahomes was good enough.
Playing on a high ankle sprain, Mahomes passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns, as the Kansas City Chiefs won and are headed to their third Super Bowl in four seasons with Mahomes at quarterback.
As expected, the Philadelphia Eagles are a small favorite but look for them to put the bull rush on Mahomes, whose mobility was limited from the start. He carried only three times, and none after he stated limping.
He’ll have an extra week to get healthy before the championship game, and he’ll need it. The Eagles are really good.
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