This game had a sense of gloom well before tipoff. Not just because Arkansas lost at home to Missouri or because it simply a road game, but when it was announced Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris were both suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team, it was just "buckle in, gonna be a bumpy ride!"
And sure enough, the first half was easily one of the worst halves of basketball the Razorbacks have played all year. They couldn't stop, contain, slow down, or in any way impede LSU from scoring. The Tigers scored 22 points in the first eight minutes of the game. They built a 20 point lead before 14 minutes had been played. Arkansas simply had no answer for Johnny O'Bryant (12 points, 4 rebounds in the first half, finished with 23 and 9) or Jordan Mickey (9 and 7, finished with 22 and 11).
The Tigers dominated Arkansas in points in the paint 48-24. Part of that is because LSU's big men were making things difficult for Arkansas with nine blocks, and part of that is Arkansas wasn't doing a good job of moving the ball. The Hogs only had seven assists for the whole game (21 field goals).
No, that wasn't just because Arkansas didn't have Qualls or Harris. Arkansas wasn't hitting shots (only scored 25 points, 2-14 from three) in the opening 20 minutes. When you're playing shorthanded, you need other players to step up, and that didn't happen until the second half.
The only good thing you can say for the game is that the team didn't quit after the disastrous start.
Believe it or not, four Hogs scored in double figures: Rashad Madden (17), Bobby Portis (15), Kikko Haydar (15), and Coty Clarke (10)
Kikko Haydar set a career high with 15 points - all in the second half. Mardracus Wade scored five. Coty Clarke scored eight of his ten points in the last 20 minutes. Anthlon Bell and Jacorey Williams each hit a shot.
It was enough for Arkansas to make a couple of runs. The Hogs cut the lead to eight points just six-and-a-half minutes into the half, but LSU went on another run and pushed the lead back up to 20 with nine minutes to go after a jumper from Malik Morgan. But, much like the Missouri game, Arkansas kept fighting and cut the lead all the way to six points when Wade hit a three with just under five minutes to go.
But then, as the Hogs have too often done this season, they went on one of their patented scoring droughts that lasted nearly three minutes, and by the time they scored again when Rashad Madden went to the free throw line with a couple of minutes left, LSU was already back up by 14 and the game was effectively over.
Hard to really find anything new to say at this point. Inconsistent play just dooms the team. The middle 20-25 minutes of the game were pretty solid. But the opening and ending of the game were putrid.
So much has been made of this program's home vs road record, and that giant discrepancy plagues them in how they play on the court as well. At times they're amazing. At times you wonder how they ever got scholarships to play basketball.
Arkansas was fantastic from the free throw line (25-27) so there's that. But, as has been consistent in SEC play, they're just not hitting shots. Both teams attempted 64 field goals, and Arkansas only made 21 compared to LSU's 35. That was more than enough to overcome Arkansas free throw advantage.
We don't know yet if Qualls and Harris will be available for Arkansas' home game against Alabama Wednesday night, but regardless, there's a lot of Hog fans anxiously awaiting baseball right now.