Arkansas scored 86 points at home and lost. Lost to a bad Auburn team. An Auburn team that had lost seven straight games. An Auburn team that had only reached 90 points twice before, both in cupcake non-conference games.
KenPom gave Arkansas an 89% chance of winning this game and they lost. This was supposed to be Arkansas' easy bounce back game after some historically awful performances last week in Mississippi, Mike Anderson even said as much after the game, and the team showed up offensively but not defensively. It was the first time Arkansas has scored this many points in regulation in an SEC game and still lost since 1996, 20 years ago.
Arkansas actually led from the 17:12 mark in the second half all the way to under three minutes to go, but gave up three quick threes, two to T.J. Lang (son of Antonio Lang, best known for getting posterized on Scotty Thruman's famous three from the 1994 national title game) and one from Bryce Brown and the Hogs never could get back to even. Anton Beard had an open three to tie the game in the last minute but missed.
It was a game the team should be upset over, and they certainly seemed to be. Moses Kingsley and Jabril Durham were the two players in the postgame press conference and both seemed as dejected as the team has been after any game this season.
It was strange to watch the game because even though Arkansas never had a huge lead, it wasn't until the last couple of minutes that I truly felt the Razorbacks could lose. The Hogs did so many of the things they have to do well to win games, so it just seemed like they'd end up on top at the end. Auburn has such a depleted roster that it just seemed like they'd fade away at some point but it never happened. Bruce Pearl even said afterward he was afraid that was about to happen on a couple of occasions but it just never happened.
A lot of attention will go toward Auburn's three-point shooting. They made 15 of 23 shots from beyond the arc including 6 of 8 in the second half. That's really impressive shooting even if Arkansas wasn't even on the court to defend. The Hogs have had porous perimeter defense throughout the year, but this was still far worse than normal. Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt both reached 50% against the Hogs, but neither came close to Auburn's 65.2%. It was remarkable.
But the Tigers didn't just beat the Hogs on the perimeter. They outscored Arkansas in the paint 36-26. Despite Arkansas having a 14-7 advantage in offensive rebounds, Auburn was just shy of the Hogs in second chance points, 12-9.
As mentioned, the Hogs did a lot of the things they wanted to do. They had far more offensive rebounds. They forced 21 turnovers. They attempted 12 more field goals and took 12 more free throws, and Auburn even shot less than 50% from the free throw line. Dusty Hannahs came back to life and scored 18 points. Moses Kingsley had another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds (but was just 6-14 from the free throw line). Jabril Durham also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists (only the 13th time in Arkansas history a player had 10+ assists in an SEC game and Durham's second this season). Anthlon Bell scored 21 points and moved into 32nd place on Arkansas' all-time scoring list.
They just couldn't stop Auburn. The Tigers shot 61.1% overall. Brown led all scorers with 27 points.
The loss puts Arkansas in a bad spot, both record-wise and confidence-wise. It will take a pretty amazing comeback now for the Hogs to finish the season with a winning record. The SEC schedule set up perfectly for them to make a run at the end of the year, but it's not happening, or at least they're wasting the first part of it. It's certainly really disappointing to watch unfold.
The Hogs host Missouri, a team that just upset South Carolina Tuesday night and beat Tennessee last weekend, on Saturday. It should be a special day because Arkansas plans to hang a banner for Eddie Sutton, but even basketball nostalgia is failing to generate much excitement right now.