This game came so close to making me look like an idiot for posting the year's top ten games last week. If the Hogs had pulled it out, it definitely would have made the list.
Arkansas battled back from a disastrous start in which they fell behind 30-7 in just over 10 minutes to trail by just four points at halftime and eventually forcing overtime on a crazy three by Anthlon Bell. Bell was just 1-for-10 before the final seconds when he caught a long pass from Jabril Durham and launched the tying shot from a yard or two beyond the arc.
The Razorbacks outscored Dayton 65-42 over the last 30 minutes of regulation to get to overtime, and even took a four point lead in the extra period following a three by Anton Beard with a couple of minutes to go, but it seemed the Hogs couldn't do anything right once that shot went in.
The Flyers beat the Hogs downcourt for an easy layup five seconds later, and turnovers by Moses Kingsley and Beard led to two more fast breaks, and suddenly Arkansas' lead was gone for good.
It was an unfortunate way to end the game for Kingsley, who was otherwise brilliant. He finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds (his 8th double-double in 12 games), three blocks and a steal. He was the main reason Arkansas came back in the first half. The rest of the team only made three baskets in the first 20 minutes.
As great as the comeback nearly was, there are still a few questions that hopefully will be answered at some point. Why did the team have so much difficulty getting Kingsley the ball later in the game and in overtime? Why did Anderson take Dusty Hannahs out of the game with 4:47 to go in the second half when he was the team's leading scorer in the half and shooting a perfect 4-4 from the field? Anderson replaced him with Bell, who was ice cold until hitting the great shot in the last seconds.
Dayton is the best team Arkansas has faced this year. They're 9-2 and the favorites to win the Atlantic 10. This was also the Flyers' first game with Dashawn Pierre, their star forward who was suspended for the first semester following sexual assault allegations (no charges were filed and he even sued the school for reinstatement, but he was suspended). Pierre scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds. A win would have been a nice statement for the Hogs, and the comeback is still something of a statement, but obviously not as strong.
The loss means Arkansas will head into SEC play at .500. Four of the team's losses have come by a total of 13 points - and two of them in overtime. All the wins have been blowouts. It feels like the Hogs are so close to being pretty good, but eventually some of these losses will have to turn into wins. The team has established that they have talent and can play with good teams, but real excitement won't come until they beat somebody. Hopefully that happens soon.