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Arkansas Razorbacks 89, Evansville Purple Aces 76: Turning a Corner?


Gunnar Rathbun-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas has suffered a pair of disappointing defeats in their last three games, losing to both Stanford and Wake Forest by three points. The Hogs have shown several flashes of their potential, and against Evansville, they finally put a lot of it together.

There are going to be a few awesome nights this season when both Anthlon Bell and Dusty Hannahs are on fire, and this was one of those nights. The two guards combined for 44 points, including going 8-of-11 from three. Bell was 5-of-6. Hannahs was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. They were both fantastic.

That wasn't all. Jabril Durham flirted with a triple-double, scoring nine points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing seven assists. Moses Kingsley put up 12 points and eight rebounds, which is becoming a routine stat line from him. He only played 25 minutes after getting in first half foul trouble. Willy Kouassi had seven points and four blocks. Manny Watkins had 10 points and two steals.

Trey Thompson made his return to the court. He hurt his ankle against Georgia Tech before Thanksgiving and hasn't been back since. He only played for four minutes but it's good to see that he's progressing and will hopefully get back to full health soon. Arkansas really needs any depth they can get in the frontcourt.

The two biggest keys for Arkansas' victory were keeping Evansville off the free throw line (only 19 attempts) and that the Purple Aces weren't able to connect from three (they were 3-for-17). Both of those defensive stats have been on the bad side for Arkansas most of this season, but they did well against Evansville. The Purple Aces still shot 49% and made the same number of field goals as Arkansas (28), but the Hogs hit more threes and free throws.

And it should be recognized that Evansville is a good team. They were 7-1 heading into the game and had a higher KenPom rating than any of Arkansas' opponents to date.

This was the best game of the season for the Razorbacks, and hopefully they'll be able to build on it. They'll get Anton Beard back before their next stretch of tough games, and Thompson's return will also be a boost. I can't wait to see how this team progresses.