There is no better SEC team for Arkansas to play coming off the Mississippi State loss than Missouri.
The Razorbacks needed to start digging themselves out of the SEC hole they’ve dug for themselves, and they certainly did that against the woeful Tigers. Arkansas won easily. The Hogs led by double digits the entire second half. The lead was as high as 22 points.
Missouri is the worst team in the SEC this year by most metrics. They’re the only winless-in-league team remaining and have the worst overall record at 5-11, simply winning this game, especially at home, is unlikely to move the meter much for the Hogs. Winning is good, yes, but this one is more of “meets basic expectations” rather than “achievement”.
That being said, Arkansas should get some credit for playing well. Not only was the game never close, but the Hogs scored more points on the Tigers than anybody so far this season. Arkansas shot 55.9% from the field and held the Tigers to 38.6%. The Razorbacks beat Missouri easily in points off turnovers, 25-14, and fast break points, 21-6. It was an entertaining game.
Statistically, there wasn’t much unusual about which players played well. Daryl Macon, Jaylen Barford, Moses Kingsley, Anton Beard, and Dusty Hannahs all reached double figures. Macon led with 17 points. At one point in the first half, Beard stole the ball around midcourt while diving on the ground. He landed facing the opposing basket but know Macon was racing toward Arkansas’ basket, so Beard hurled a no-look pass over his head all the way down the court that Macon caught and put in for a layup. It was probably the flashiest play Arkansas’ had this season.
Probably the most fun thing happened was Manny Watkins hitting a three-pointer. He’s a senior and that was the first one he’d hit in his career. He was 0-8 coming into the game. It was early in the game and it clearly gave him some confidence because he took three more throughout the game - and missed them all. Macon was laughing about it after the game, saying he was “speechless” to learn it was Watkins’ first three.
So now Arkansas gets an interesting game on Tuesday at Texas A&M. College Station has been full of nightmares for the Hogs since the Aggies came into the SEC. They were expected to be pretty good this season - they opened the season ranked 30th in KenPom - but are 1-4 in SEC play, are ranked 60th in KenPom, and have an RPI of 74. On paper, it’s certainly a winnable game for Arkansas, and a game that most probably picked for a loss before the season started. It’s an opportunity. And they need to cash in on some more opportunities starting immediately.