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Hogs Falter Late In Starkville

Arkansas is 1-1 in SEC play.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Mississippi State Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas had a four point lead with just over two minutes remaining. Mississippi State finished the game on a 9-2 run and handed Arkansas their first conference loss of the year to the tune of a 78-75 score. Mike Anderson chose to go to a zone late in the game, a reasonable move considering Mississippi State was 2/19 from three point range up to this point, but two tough shots from the Weatherspoon brothers went in, while Arkansas’ senior guards didn’t execute in their last few possessions.

Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon both turned the ball over at crucial times in the final minute and it sunk the Hogs chances in this one. Blaming the free throw disparity in this one seems to be the justification of choice for this loss. Does a disparity as big as 40-12 factor into things? Of course it does, but guess what, so did Arkansas only making five of those 12 free throws, as does having nearly twice the amount of turnovers as Mississippi State (13 to 7). This was the first game all season Arkansas’ opponent had less than 10 turnovers.

While free throws are an important part of the game, only forcing seven turnovers really hurts the Hogs. And despite the disparity, Arkansas had a four point lead with two minutes to go, so it clearly didn’t hurt them to the point of losing because Mississippi State only had one free throw in their final run.

Simply put, if you’re up by four in the final minutes and you execute, then you win. Arkansas didn’t close out the game in a way they’re capable of doing. You can chose to look at the free throws and see the disparity as why the Hogs lost, but it by no means is the only factor. Arkansas had only four fast break points, Macon was the only Hog who could hit a 3 (players not named Macon were 1/8), and the Hogs gave up 17 offensive rebounds.

Regardless of why it happened, it happened, the Hogs now have an even tougher road game coming up this weekend. Auburn is coming off a road win at Tennessee and is 13-1 on the year. No matter what happened in this one, the Hogs will need to have a better game to win the next one.