The Arkansas basketball program capped off its worst day since...I don't know. Arrests? Altman? Nolan's tirade? The removal of slobber hog? I don't know, but it's been a no good, rotten, very bad day for Hog basketball fans.
Hours after Malik Monk took the air out of Arkansas basketball's sails, the team's ship sank against Akron in Bud Walton Arena.
It should be noted that Akron is expected to be a good team. They were actually rated much higher in KenPom.coms ratings coming into Fayetteville. They have good size for a mid-major, by sight looking just as big as Arkansas.
The Zips led from start to finish. Akron hit two threes to begin the game and never looked back. The lead was as high as 14 and as close as two points in the second half, but Arkansas wasn't able to get the basket that would tie or take the lead. Every run was answered with a three or an and-1, and Akron walked out with a win.
Arkansas played much better offensively in the second half, scoring 51 points. If you're wondering how Arkansas scored 51 points in the second half and lost, it's because they allowed 51 points as well. As a result, the Zips' superior first half performance carried the game. Arkansas shot a paltry 33.3% in the first 20 minutes, making just 10 of 30 shots. Akron shot 56.7% in the second half.
The scorers scored for the most part. Anthlon Bell led with 23 points, Moses Kingsley had 17 (and 12 rebounds), and Dusty Hannahs 16. Manuale Watkins had 10 but nobody else seemed to be able to get comfortable. Jimmy Whitt struggled for the first time in a Razorback uniform, finishing with six points and only making one field goal.
Arkansas tried different things, at one point running with an incredibly small lineup of Bell, Hannahs, Whitt, Jabril Durham and Kingsley, but it didn't quite work. However, that's probably not the last time we'll see it. There were times that Bell and Hannahs were on the court together and it was fun to see the team pass the ball between them to try to get open for threes. It seemed to be some of the more successful basketball of the night.
There are certain things Arkansas won't be able to improve until the next batch of recruits come in. But some things can be better soon. The Razorbacks need more help from players who aren't the main scorers. They need to defend better in transition.They'll always be in trouble when they score fewer than 30 points in a half, as they did in the first half tonight, but they should be able to win when they close with 51 second-half points. But they weren't able to dig out the hole they made for themselves.
This is just the second non-conference loss in Bud Walton Arena of the Mike Anderson era, and the first to a mid-major. They have another game Friday night against Charleston Southern. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.