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Gonzaga Bulldogs 91, Arkansas Razorbacks 81: Somebody Guard Pangos!


Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, you just aren't going to stop someone.

Arkansas trailed for virtually the entire game, but for the most part didn't play that badly. The Razorbacks simply couldn't slow down a trio of Gonzaga scorers in Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and Sam Dower, led by Pangos' career-high 34 points on 7-for-8 three point shooting. The three players combined for 66 of Gonzaga's 91 points.

The Hogs trailed by seven at halftime, and cut it to 48-43 with 15:46 to go, but the Bulldogs scored five quick points within the next minute to stop the rally. Arkansas cut it down to nine a few minutes later with 7:53 left, but Gonzaga hit three consecutive three-pointers (the first two by Pangos) to put the game away.

But Arkansas didn't fade away. They clawed their way back to make the final score a definitely-respectable 10-point margin.

It was probably Bobby Portis's best game as a Razorback, scoring 18 points 8-14 shooting (but really, why is he ever shooting 3s?) and seven rebounds, including five from the offensive glass. Alandise Harris pitched in 17 and Michael Qualls contributed 13

The best news from the game was that someone thawed out Coty Clarke at halftime. The senior forward, expected to be one of the biggest contributors on the team coming into the season, had not played well in the first two games in Maui, scoring 8 points on 2-9 shooting. But coming out after a scoreless first half, Clarke came up with 11 points in the second half on 5-6 shooting to help keep Arkansas competitive. That's what the Razorbacks will need going forward.

Simply, Arkansas lost the game because they didn't shoot as well as Gonzaga. The Hogs actually took 17 more shots than the Bulldogs throughout the game, and nearly doubled them in offensive rebounds, but Arkansas only made one more field goal.

The big difference came from behind the three point line. The Hogs were an awful 4-21 (19%), and were fatally 0-8 in the second half. Meanwhile, Gonzaga was 12-20 (60%), mostly thanks to Pangos. Other than him, Gonzaga was just 5-12 from three. Arkansas' best shooter, Anthlon Bell, was just 2-9. Fred Gulley and Rashad Madden, whose long range shooting was huge in the Minnesota game, were 0-4 from behind the arc.

It wasn't a good day for Arkansas' backcourt, but the forwards did play well, and 81 points is a solid performance against a good team, but the Razorbacks couldn't slow down Pangos, Downer, and Bell.

The question now is whether or not Arkansas' trip to Maui was a success or a failure. I don't necessarily think it's either. I think the team probably helped themselves more than hurt themselves. I don't think they hurt their chances of making it to the NCAA Tournament, but it probably just depends on how much weight is given to this program for winning a game against a respectable opponent away from Bud Walton.

The same thing goes for the team. If they believe they got rid of the road game albatross by beating Minnesota, then that could prove to be a vital thing going forward. Arkansas won't play another game outside the state of Arkansas until they open SEC play at Texas A&M in January, and hopefully this team proved to themselves they can play hard and keep up with really good teams away from home. That's really big.

Arkansas' draw of Cal, Minnesota, and Gonzaga is pretty strong. It's definitely a good thing that Arkansas didn't get stuck playing Chaminade.

Some fans might look at the 1-2 record or the 6th place finish. Those don't really matter. What matters is that Arkansas played three good teams, and did win against one of them. They won't get knocked very hard for losing to Cal or Gonzaga.

A really good sign for the team over the three games is the possible emergence of Moses Kingsley. He was a complete non-factor in Arkansas' first three games, and didn't play at all against Cal, but the big freshman scored 16 points in 20 minutes over the last two games. If Kingsley can continue to develop throughout the season and continue being a reliable contributor, it could make a difference for the Hogs down the line.

In the end, there's a lot to build on from the Maui trip. It would've obviously been awesome to get a second victory, but it feels like things are going well.