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Three Good Things and Three Bad Things About Arkansas’ Start

How are the stats looking five games in?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round: Butler Bulldogs vs Arkansas Razorbacks Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Good: Interior Defense

It helps to have an elite shot blocker like Daniel Gafford, but the two point defense has been outstanding across the board. Right now, their effective FG% on defense is 42.7%, good for 13th in D1 and they’re 14th in 2 point defense. They’ve kept teams who are trying to score inside from doing that, right now teams are getting 38.1% of their points from two point field goals, and only four other teams have a lower percentage of that.

Bad: Free Throws

This is the obvious one with the Hogs just shooting 64.3% from the charity stripe.. The nine missed free throws cost them the game against Texas, and eight missed free throws nearly cost them the Indiana game. The post players have been a struggle almost across the board. Gafford’s 9/10 in the most recent game is great step in the right direction. His form is somewhere in the middle between “smooth” and “Markelle Fultz.”

But the combination of Adrio Bailey, Reggie Chaney, and Gabe Osabuohien are 53% from the line together. Hopefully the 34/46 from the line against UT-Arlington is a sign of an improved stroke.

Good: Ball Movement

The Hogs are assisting nearly two out of every made shots this year. The current rate of 64.2% is 8th in D1. While Jalen Harris has been the main facilitator, the ball is moving around and everyone is giving a lot of players the chance to rack up assists. Six players are averaging over an assist per game and have assist rates over 10. The offensive change from two high usage guards to a more even effort has worked.

Bad: Offensive Rebounds

Whether it’s getting offensive rebounds (247th in D1) or allowing offensive boards (225th in D1) the numbers aren’t great. Allowing offensive boards makes sense with such a high volume shot blocker in Gafford. If he’s coming over on the weak side to block a shot, it’s giving the offense a numbers advantage against a largely undersized rest of the lineup.

On the offensive side, Arkansas could benefit more of having Gafford and a couple others crashing the boards. Mason Jones (16.6 rebound rate) and Reggie Chaney (19.9 rebound rate) have shown to be effective on the boards, and should be more active on that side.

Good: Forcing Turnovers

The turnover rate on defense is 25.4%, meaning the Hogs are forcing a turnover once every four possessions. That’s good for 8th in D1 so far. Again, this is the result of a greater team effort, with six different Hogs averaging over two steals per 100 possessions. Mike Anderson has said many times that the defense was going to be the calling card of this defense and it has been true.

Bad: Giving Up Turnovers

Jalen Harris has been good at taking care of the ball (29 assists to 6 turnovers), but the rest of the team is really struggling to keep the ball. It’s coming from some of the Hogs’ most used players.

  • Daniel Gafford: 29.4 USG%; 20.7 TO%
  • Reggie Chaney: 23.2 USG%; 28.3 TO%
  • Mason Jones: 19.3 USG%; 17.5 TO%
  • Desi Sills: 15.8 USG%; 32.2 TO%

The players that involved in the offense have got to cut down on the turnovers to be successful. So far, the Hogs haven’t had the most explosive offense and need to create more scoring opportunities. In all four wins, Arkansas has forced their opponents to having a higher turnover rate. The Texas game was the lone game where the Hogs lost that battle.