More suffocating defense from the Hogs ensured that the Eric Musselman era began with a bang, as the Arkansas men’s basketball team has navigated a 5 game home stand and come through undefeated. South Dakota entered Bud Walton as the leading 3 point scoring team in the NCAA, but you wouldn’t have known from the box score, as Arkansas held South Dakota to just 25% from downtown.
The Muss Bus rolled on, as the team seems to have a new fire in the wake of Musselman’s arrival at Arkansas. It’s been incredibly encouraging to see the team take so quickly to a new system, and 5 straight blowout wins is downright inspiring. South Dakota entered the game shooting over 51% from 3, and while they were always likely to regress to the mean, the Hogs made sure that regression came quickly. I wouldn’t be shocked to see South Dakota in March— this is a quality win.
It was the Jimmy Whitt Jr. Show, as the once prodigal son put on a vintage basketball display, showing deadly accuracy from mid-range, as he finished an eye-watering 11-14. In a game that was sure to give Daryl Morey nightmares, it seemed like the mid-range jumper was going to fall every time Jimmy pulled up. He tied a career high of 24 points and added 7 boards to boot.
Elsewhere, Mason Jones turned in another solid performance, with 14 points and 7 rebounds. He went 4-4 at the free throw line, making him 27-27 on the year. On a night where Isaiah Joe struggled for shooting form, he still turned in a decent game with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
The MVP performance of the night goes to the referees though, whose whistles didn’t stop from the first tip. I don’t want to do the job of a college referee, and get that it’s hard, but my goodness, let the players play.
Up next, the Hogs will face Georgia Tech on the road, in one of the first big tests of Musselman’s tenure. Tip off will be at 6pm CT, and will presumably be available on WatchESPN.