About an hour and a half after the Arkansas football team completed a memorable collapse in the Belk Bowl, the Razorbacks basketball team showed it was unable to keep up with Florida in Bud Walton Arena.
The Hogs stayed within striking distance of the Gators for most of the game, but Florida was able to pull away over the last 12 minutes. In the first half, giving up turnovers and offensive rebounds kept the Hogs at bay. In the second, Arkansas just couldn’t stop Florida. KeVaughn Allen’s return to The Natural State resulted in a team-high 21 points and five three-pointers.
Only Daryl Macon outscored Allen, with 22 points, but he didn’t get enough help. Moses Kingsley scored 13 and grabbed 14 rebounds, but he was an inefficient 5-15 from the field. Jaylen Barford scored 2 points on 1-8 shooting. Arkansas did get some help from Anton Beard (10 points), Dusty Hannahs (11 points) and Arlando Cook (8 points) but they were unable to keep up with the four Gators who ended up in double figures.
The Gators are clearly at a different level than what Arkansas saw during non-conference play. They’re bigger, faster, and more athletic. The Hogs did well enough matching them for the first few minutes, but the team will only do well competing against elite teams when they shoot a higher percentage. They were 41% tonight, but they’ll need to do better, especially at home.
Florida is currently a top 5 team in the RPI, so this was a chance to really legitimize Arkansas’ resume that they built in non-conference, but it didn’t happen. While that is obviously disappointing, the good news is that since the Gators have such a lofty ranking, the loss likely won’t hurt Arkansas’ RPI too much. But it does make the Tennessee game next week very important. It’s a road game, but the Vols are outside the top 50 and will be coming off a road win at Texas A&M. Since Arkansas’ third game is at Kentucky, it’ll be really important to get an early win.
I’ll say this about the Razorback fans, though. Arkansas showed the Belk Bowl on the scoreboard until that game was over. I was worried that the collapse in Charlotte would dampen the crowd, but it was a hot crowd. They waited for Arkansas to make a big run but it just never materialized. It’s definitely one of the most frustrating nights to be an Arkansas fan in recent memory.