When Arkansas made the incredible comeback at Vanderbilt a couple of weeks ago, I wrote this:
You have to think Arkansas’ habit of digging a hole for themselves will cost them at some point, but so far so good.
“Some point” was Saturday night against lowly Missouri. The Tigers had not yet won an SEC game and hadn’t won at all since December 6th. This was a bad loss. It’s the worst loss in the entire SEC so far this year.
Arkansas started the game in Columbia in disastrous fashion, scoring only 10 points in the first 12 minutes and trailed by 15 with 5:58 to go before halftime, and despite an optimistic second half run that cut the lead to a single point with 7:24 left, the Hogs couldn’t get stops when they needed them and/or couldn’t get the necessary baskets to take the lead.
If the Razorbacks needed a rebound, they gave up an offensive rebound. If they needed to play defense, they’d commit a senseless foul. If they needed a basket, they’d miss an open jumper or commit a turnover or take a bad shot. It was incredibly frustrating.
Arkansas’ defense in the first half was abysmal. They allowed Mizzou to shoot 61.5% and score 47 points. It was very reminiscent of the first half against Oklahoma State last week. Credit Missouri for making the shots. They hadn’t been making those shots all year.
The Hogs had a good shooting night, making over 50% of their shots in both halves, but lost the turnover battle 17-10 and was a little bit better from the free throw line. There were 47 fouls called in this game, so free throw shooting is a big deal and Arkansas shot below their average. In a close game like this, that can cost you, and it helped bury the Hogs against Missouri.
Moses Kingsley had his worst game since the Mississippi State game last year, nearly a year ago to the day. The SEC’s Preseason Player of the Year scored only 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 technical foul. It’s a possibility that he may not even make an All-SEC team this year.
Jaylen Barford led the Hogs with 23 points. He and Daryl Macon kept the Hogs in the game for a while. Dusty Hannahs got more involved late in the game and finished with 12 points.
The most important question is what this does to Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament hopes. The Razorbacks had a top-30 RPI and seemed solidly in the 9-seed range heading into today. Both of those will drop, but we don’t yet know how much.
What we do know, Arkansas is going to have to win some games going down the stretch against better teams than Missouri.