Apologies for the cheap, losing-in-Vegas-themed headline, but if fits.
Last season, the knock on Arkansas was that they couldn't win away from Bud Walton Arena, which didn't happen until traveling to Auburn in late February. After this trip to Las Vegas, it appears that label will continue to haunt the team for a bit longer.
What makes this trip such a disappointment is that these were the types of games we hoped Arkansas would be able to win this year. Arizona State is not a ranked team, and Wisconsin is only barely in some polls.
Arkansas played even against the Sun Devils for the first half, but were run off the court in the second half. The worst part is that it was exactly the kind of Razorback game we saw in February last year. At one point, BJ Young had 25 of the team's first 50 points, but once he cooled off, points were hard to find. Only Rashad Madden and Hunter Mickelson were also in double digits. Nobody else had more than 4 points. Marshawn Powell, who had looked dominant in the early games in Fayetteville, only scored 2 points in 18 minutes.
The final score was 83-68. If the Razorbacks are going to hang their hats on defense like they say, they can't give up 40+ point halves.
If there is any solace to the trip, the Wisconsin game was a better effort, and the Badgers are rated higher than the Sun Devils. Arkansas led 40-29 at halftime, and while the scoring was more balanced than the Arizona State game, it's clear the team needs a consistent second option to go along with Young. Powell performed better with 8 points, but this time it was Mardracus Wade as the only other player besides young to hit double figures.
Also troubling: the bench recorded more assists (4) than the starters (3). In fact, the Hogs only recorded 15 total assists for the two games. That's indicative of a lack of ball movement that the team needs to be successful. When it's good, Mike Anderson likes to point out in his post-game press conferences how many assists the team records compared to how many field goals were made, but that likely didn't happen in Vegas.
Up next for the Razorbacks is the big Syracuse game at Bud Walton. It will be a chance to see if the Razorbacks can really play well against anybody in Fayetteville, while still figuring out how to play well on the road. Like last year. The game is Friday night and university is calling for a white-out from the fans. It's the premiere non-conference home game and deserves a big crowd.
The only other games away from Fayetteville before conference play are Michigan in Ann Arbor on December 5th and Alabama A&M in North Little Rock on December 22nd. Every time the Hogs lose away from Fayetteville, that noise will get louder and louder.