That was awesome! For a while, anyway, and then it was not so great, but it turned out to be good enough for Arkansas' sixth top 50 win of the season.
The Razorbacks buzzsaw'd their way to a 49-26 halftime lead, and for all intents and purposes this looked like a sequel to last season's Ole Miss game when Arkansas just destroyed the Rebels. However, this Texas A&M team is better than that Ole Miss team was and came out of halftime putting up a fight with a quick 7-2 run, commencing on chipping away at Arkansas' lead.
The easy story is that the Hogs just didn't play with the same intensity they did while building the big lead. There may be some truth to that, but Arkansas' seven 2nd half blocks suggest they were still active, even if some of their fundamentals began to slip. The Aggies only had a rebounding advantage of 16-12 at halftime, but dominated the glass 28-11 in the final 20 minutes. That, along with trimming their turnovers from 16 to 5 after half, was a big reason they were able to cut Arkansas' lead to as few as two points and put a big scare in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas didn't start shooting badly in the second half, they just got fewer shots because they weren't getting turnovers and the Aggies were getting all the rebounds. Percentage-wise, they were about even, but A&M took 15 more shots in the last 20 minutes, and it was almost enough to complete what would have been an epic comeback/chokejob.
It just wasn't enough. Danuel House hit an And-1 with 90 seconds left but missed the free throw that would have cut the lead to a single point. But that was the last basket A&M would make until a last second three gave the Aggies the cover and broke the hearts of gamblers everywhere. Ky Madden and Michael Qualls made five straight free throws to give Arkansas a little bit of comfort in the last minute.
The first half was incredible though. The Hogs put up 49 points (a total A&M matched in the second half) with Bobby Portis and Anthlon Bell both scoring 14 points. Bell was hitting his shots from long range, which makes Arkansas a scary deadly team.
Portis finished with 22 points, second only to House's 28, but only grabbed four rebounds, his lowest total since the Alabama State game - the first game of this season way back on November 16th. Madden and Alandise Harris both had 11 points. Anton Beard had 8 and his minutes were limited again by foul trouble. He's committed four fouls or more in eight games this season. It's the only real negative to what's been a fantastic freshman season.
Moses Kingsley had 3 blocks in 11 minutes and had a nice breakaway for a dunk in the first half. Arkansas left some points on the board by trying to get too fancy on fast breaks a few times during the game.
Now we can all think about this Saturday's matchup with the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. Hog fans will undoubtedly spend the next few days with visions of a historic upset dancing in their heads. The Razorbacks haven't lost since January 31st, so fans absolutely shouldn't be blamed for thinking the Hogs might have a shot to pull it off.
A win in Lexington could likely bump Arkansas up a few spots in the NCAA Tournament bracket, but it seems safe to say at this point that the Razorbacks' ticket into the Dance has been punched. A loss in Lexington won't hurt Arkansas at all. In fact they'll get points just for playing Kentucky on the road. None of Arkansas' final two opponents are bad enough to really drop the Hogs very far and I don't think the SEC Tournament could hurt them badly either. I think it's safe to say the bid is locked up and the team is playing for seeding at this point.