Creeping toward the end of the second half of their game Tuesday night, the Arkansas Razorbacks were still having a tough time putting the North Texas Mean Green away for good. Up 45-33 with eight-and-a-half minutes left, it felt like something was bound to pop. Adrio Bailey’s fiery put-back dunk (and the ensuing technical for hanging on the rim) was the pop. From there, the Hogs found their way offensively, making tough layups and sinking their free throws, and the rout was on. By the final whistle, Arkansas had their second showy bulldozing of an opponent, 66-43.
Before that run, both teams were struggling to find the basket. North Texas’s veteran defense kept Arkansas in front of them the whole game, not allowing any fast break points off of turnovers.
For the Hogs’ part, they continued to look outstanding on defense. To begin the game, Arkansas held North Texas scoreless for the first eight-and-a-half minutes. The Mean Green missed their first eleven shots. Unlikely as it was, it seemed they might never score. Over the past two games, the Arkansas defense has looked exceedingly impressive, playing tight defense all the way through the shot clock and chasing every loose ball. Wildly, in the first half, two different guards skied to block three-point shots from North Texas. There will be more nights like tonight, when points come in trickles, and having a gutsy set of defenders will give the Hogs a chance.
Mason Jones, along with Isaiah Joe, led all scorers with 16 points. Jones, in a similar fashion to what he did last week against Rice, opened the scoring for the game, getting five of the game’s first seven points. He cooled down through a long stretch in the middle of the game, but took over at the end, getting to the free throw line and sinking all nine of his attempts.
When points were in short supply in the later stages of the first half, Jimmy Whitt Jr. kept the Hogs steadily pushing forward with 9 of his 13 points coming during that lull. After a slow first game back in the Razorback uniform, seeing Whitt contribute as a key cog was a delight.
In addition to the aforementioned dunk, Adrio Bailey contributed the Adrio Bailey thing, getting four steals and five rebounds. In one play, Bailey tipped a North Texas pass for a turnover and ran down the court in time to get a put-back on an offensive rebound. The man delivers sparks, like all good teams need.
Deng Geu led North Texas with 10 points, while Zachary Simmons and his 6’10 frame came down with 9 boards, including several offensive boards that gave the light-scoring visitors some second chances that the Hogs would like to avoid.
Size was a slight issue to overcome against Simmons and North Texas, but it will loom large as the Hogs face better teams. Getting Reggie Chaney back from his suspension will surely help, but as Coach Musselman admitted before the season started, it’s the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night.
A solid win like the one tonight is like melatonin and a warm glass of milk. Sleep comes easier with it.
Confidence graphics for basketball came out today. After the rout of Rice, confidence dipped a little? I guess someone always has to say no. Either way, hopefully this strong showing against UNT will boost it back up. I’ve seen no reason to waver.