The Razorbacks covered the spread against Alabama, which we're pretty sure is a first for Arkansas' SEC road games this season. So there's that.
The first half was really ugly with the Hogs trailing by double digits for portions of it, leading many to believe we were about to watch another road game blowout. But that didn't happen. The Hogs fought back and actually took the lead late in the second half when the the Tide looked tired and couldn't hit a shot, but the Hogs couldn't hold on.
There were plenty of chances to win. Missed rebounds. A couple of defensive breakdowns after Alabama beat the full court press. Mardracus Wade missed a pair of key free throws. Marshawn Powell threw a horrendous cross-court pass that was picked off. The final sequence was disastrous. With about 16 seconds left and down by three, BJ Young took his time dribbling up-court before cutting to the rim to dunk...with 4.7 seconds left. Young then attempted a desperation three after Alabama's free throws but it didn't come close.
Let's talk about three's for a second. We're two-thirds of the way through the end of the season, so it's time admit this, only Powell and Kikko Haydar should be allowed to shoot threes. That's it. Everything else should be desperation. Take a guess at how Young ranks on the team in three-point percentage. 11th. That's right. BJ Young is 11th on the Razorbacks team in three point percentage. Sure that includes a few players who have only attempted a few (Charlie Henderson, Coty Clarke) but it does include every other guard on the team.
In this Alabama game, Arkansas was 3 for 19 from behind the arc. That's 15.8%. If the Hogs had tried to get to the rim or shoot closer jumpers on some of those possessions, perhaps they shoot over 50% from the field (were 21 for 55 overall) or maybe get to the free throw line a few more times (Razorbacks were vastly better from the line overall tonight, going 11-14, but Bama got to the line 25 times while attempting 8 fewer threes).
This is just not a three point shooting team. Wade and Young are not shooting like they were last year. But with Powell on the court, Arkansas can get to the basket easier. Arkansas also has a few guys who can make short to mid-range jumpers. Hunter Mickelson can do it. Michael Qualls hit four jumpers tonight (if he can do this consistently, will be huge). Coty Clarke can do decent things offensively and has a few double-digit scoring games to prove it. It can be done.
Oh well. At least Arkansas' next game is at home. Unfortunately, Tennessee played this week on Tuesday night while Arkansas played Thursday night, so we'll see if Tennessee's longer rest will give them any advantage. Arkansas is the more talented team, however.