Those Late-Game Offensive Blues

In today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Bob Holt provides a good - if also depressing - breakdown of the Hogs' woes in overtime this season (note: subscription required to view the article). In short, the Razorbacks have performed miserably in the extra period, losing all three of their games that have gone to overtime and getting outscored by a combined total of 32-11 in those three extra periods.

Against UAB, the Hogs actually staged a nice rally to get the game to overtime, but in the Texas A&M and South Carolina contests, Arkansas' offense went into hibernation mode in the closing minutes of regulation. The Razorbacks, who led the Gamecocks by as many as nine points in the second half, led South Carolina 70-65 with 2:30 to go in regulation, only to score four more points the rest of the game.

But that was nothing compared to the Razorbacks' offensive meltdown against A&M in December. Once again, the Hogs led the Aggies by as many as nine points in the second half, but they made no field goals the last 6:43 of regulation, and their only points during that timeframe came on a pair of Julysses Nobles free throws. In overtime, they only scored two points - on a Jeff Peterson layup with 18 seconds to go. Four points in nearly 12 minutes of play - that's ugly.

There's no getting around the fact that this team is often a snooze to watch on offense - the late-game implosions against the Aggies and the Gamecocks are just extreme examples of their overall lack of offensive firepower. Still, this team is worthy of our time, attention and support. They don't shoot well, they don't rebound well - but they do often play outstanding defense. They play hard. A coach who can make his team do that still has the attention and respect of his players. Or at least I think so.

As flawed as they are, this is a likeable group of players. And when their hardworking, Johnny Punchclock-like ways are combined with the heralded talent that will arrive in Fayetteville next fall, they may be part of a seriously good team.

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