Arkansas needed this one.
It wasn’t “must win” in the sense that the season would be over if the Razorbacks lost, but the Hogs don’t have a ton of opportunities, especially in non-conference to collect quality wins for their resume. They missed a shot at one with the loss at Minnesota a few weeks ago, but after tonight, the only real chance remaining is the Texas game in a couple of weeks.
So they needed this one.
It started out like Arkansas was going to blow Houston out. The Hogs built up a 14-point lead midway into the first half, but then Arkansas went cold, missing on 12 of 15 shots at one point, and gave up an 11-0 run to the Cougars and the lead evaporated. Houston actually led by a point at halftime.
When the second half started, Arkansas clung to a tight lead for the first several minutes. But the Razorbacks turned up the defense down the stretch, and forced Houston into a rut when they missed their own set of 12 of 15 shots, and the end of the game wasn’t very dramatic.
Dusty Hannahs and Daryl Macon both led the team with 17 points each. Hannahs came off the bench again and scored his in just 17 minutes. Macon led the team with 30 minutes, and might have had the highlight of the game when he converted a 4-point play early in the second half.
Moses Kingsley finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, and was more aggressive offensively in the second half. He scored 10 of his points then, and had his best plays when he got the ball down close to the basket. Dustin Thomas had 11 points and Anton Beard was also big off the bench with 9 points. Jaylen Barford only played 15 minutes, a season low for him. He only scored one basket. Hopefully that’s not something to worry about going forward.
Exactly how good of a win this is remains to be seen. Houston’s other loss this season was a second-half blowout to LSU, but they have some good games coming up, such as their next one against Rhode Island before they get into AAC play. It hurt them tonight that one of their starters, forward Devin Davis, suffered an injury three minutes into the game and didn’t return. It forced Houston to go small most of the game and other than the run at the end of the first half, it didn’t work too well for them.
But still a much-needed good performance from Arkansas. The Hogs get another home game on Saturday vs North Florida before traveling to Houston to take on Texas next Saturday.