It wasn't the best game Arkansas' played this season, but they played well enough to win.
The Hogs were worse than usual at the free throw line, converting 20-31 from the stripe (64.5%). Arkansas came into the game shooting over 75%. And it nearly cost them. Clemson made 25-29 (86.2%). The Tigers more than doubled the Hogs in offensive rebounds 19-8, nearly tripled Arkansas in points in paint (34-12) and nearly shut out the Razorbacks in fast break points 12-2.
So what did Arkansas do right?
Basically, they shot a lot better. Despite K.J. McDaniels scoring a game-high 27 points on 9-17 shooting, the team overall shot just 32.8% and 20% from three. Arkansas shot 43.1% and 47.6% respectively. Clemson actually took 10 more shots than Arkansas, but the Razorbacks still scored two more field goals than the Tigers.
Arkansas also passed the ball much better than Clemson. The Razorbacks tallied 16 assists on 22 field goals, a rate Mike Anderson is very happy with. Clemson only had eight assists.
Rashad Madden had a monster game, one in which Brad Brownell noted afterward Clemson was not expecting. His 14 points, and 4-5 from behind the three point line, were a huge boost for the Hogs, particularly the two he made in the first few minutes after halftime that blew the game open. Arkansas was a combined 8-10 from three just from Madden, Alandise Harris, and Michael Qualls.
Qualls is quickly establishing himself as the best, most consistent player on the team. He led the team with 17 points and grabbed six rebounds, just one behind Harris's team-leading seven boards. Harris pitched in eight points, including a big three in the last seconds of the first half.
Bobby Portis had a big second half, scoring nine points and three rebounds in the last 20 minutes. He had 13 points and four rebounds total.
The game was tight in the first half, with Arkansas building a few 8 point leads, but the lead still changed four times. But in the second half, the Razorbacks exploded out of break and pushed the lead to 16 points a few minutes into the half, but Clemson didn't go away, cutting the lead to four points within the final minute, but Arkansas was able to hold on and make enough free throws to seal the victory. The lead was down to five, and Harris, who entered the game as an 80% free throw shooter, missed a pair but came through with a spectacular block at the other end to keep the lead in Arkansas' favor.
Clemson, as an ACC School was easily the biggest name school on Arkansas non-Maui non-conference schedule. It remains to be seen if they'll be the best team. They're now 7-2 with their only other loss against UMass on a neutral floor. They did blow out South Carolina, but we'll have to see how much this win will end up helping Arkansas in terms of strength of schedule and RPI standing. But regardless, Arkansas is now 6-2 on the season, and the wins should keep piling up through December.