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A Look at the Stats After 6 SEC Games

The Hogs bounced back against Mizzou. Are they primed for a midseason SEC run?

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Razorback basketball team saved its season from careening over the brink on Wednesday night, coming back from a double-digit deficit to handle woeful Missouri, 72-60.

That gets the Hogs back to 2-4 in SEC play, with three games against ranked teams in the rearview mirror. Barring an incredible stretch run, this team is well outside the postseason picture, but saving Mike Anderson’s impressive “never-finished-worse-than-.500” career mark is still in play.

Honestly, getting to something like 7-11 or 8-10 in SEC play would help swing some momentum, as a record like that almost certainly sets up a nice NCAA Tournament season in 2020, given all the talent expected to return.

Let’s check out the numbers through six games.

Arkansas Player Stats, SEC Games Only

Player Usage PPP EPR TS EFG% Adj. Floor% Usage x PPP
Player Usage PPP EPR TS EFG% Adj. Floor% Usage x PPP
Daniel Gafford 21.7% 1.35 1.11 1.22 61.8% 78.8% 0.29
Adrio Bailey 20.7% 0.73 1.03 0.71 32.4% 42.8% 0.15
Mason Jones 25.2% 0.94 0.86 1.09 46.4% 49.0% 0.24
Isaiah Joe 18.0% 1.15 0.96 1.21 59.7% 49.7% 0.21
Jalen Harris 23.0% 0.70 0.77 0.91 39.7% 59.9% 0.16
Reggie Chaney 24.6% 0.83 0.76 1.08 54.8% 50.3% 0.20
Desi Sills 18.8% 0.73 0.72 1.02 47.7% 47.2% 0.14
Gabe Osabuohien 19.3% 0.90 1.00 0.90 40.0% 60.8% 0.17
Keyshawn Embery-Simpson 16.0% 0.89 0.97 0.93 40.0% 50.1% 0.14
Usage rate is the percent of plays a player is involved in when he is on the floor. Effective possession ratio shows the player’s ability to convert possessions into shot opportunities. True shooting is the points scored per shot opportunity. EPR times TS gives points per possession. Effective FG% is the player’s shooting percentage adjusted for the higher value of 3-pointers. Floor % is the percent of a player’s possession where he scores at least one point or makes an assist.

Okay, a few observations here.

  • Daniel Gafford’s usage rate is falling, and that’s not good. Gafford posted a usage rate of about 28% in nonconference play, good for 6th in the SEC and first among SEC forwards. But he took just four shots in the loss to Florida, and his 21.7% mark in conference games is stunningly low. It should be at least 25%, meaning that a quarter of Arkansas’ possessions should end with the ball in Gafford’s hands if he’s on the floor. Arkansas’ offense is at its best when Gafford is taking shots. You probably already know this — and definitely don’t need the chart below — but here it is anyway:
  • The Hogs just aren’t getting much from the rest of the lineup. These are young players who haven’t played together. It’s just going to take time. Four players — Jalen Harris, Reggie Chaney, Desi Sills, and Gabe Osabouhein — have more turnovers than made field goals so far in SEC play. Gafford and Isaiah Joe are the only ones scoring at the “satisfactory” level of 1.10 points per shot opportunity. On only 42.8% of possessions where Adrio Bailey either ends up with the ball or dishes an assist do the Hogs get any points. Anything under 50% is considered suboptimal; under 45% is just plain bad.
  • The time to get better is right now. After what should be an ugly game against Texas Tech on Saturday, the Hogs’ schedule suddenly gets much easier. Four of the next five are against conference cellar-dwellars: Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Missouri. Going 3-1 in those games is basically required, which will mean winning a game in a city called Columbia, as the team will travel to both. The Hogs can come out of that stretch at 5-6, then things get really hard, with Kentucky, Auburn, and Mississippi State. But winnable bouts with Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Alabama lurk at the end of the season. Go 2-1 there, spring one upset over a ranked team (I’m eyeing one of the Mississippis; both are at home), and you finish 16-15 (7-11 SEC), which is enough to not call this season a total disaster.

Obviously, a 16-15 season would not meet the long-term expectations for this basketball program, but it’s decent considering the roster rebuild at play here and the potential springboard you’re looking at next year. It’s fair to question why a roster rebuild is necessary in Mike Anderson’s ninth season, but that’s another argument for another day. At least for now, the Hogs still have some life.