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Arkansas Outlasts Northern Iowa

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NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Iowa @ Arkansas Instant Reaction

Wow.....Has everyone caught their breath yet? That was stressful. These two teams just went punch for punch for 40 minutes. 18 lead changes and tied 10 different times. What a wild one that I didn’t see coming.

UNI is a team that has underperformed so far this year, but tonight they came roaring to what most thought they would be. 17 made 3 pointers for the Panthers was the story of the night. Whether wide open, contested, off the dribble, or off the catch, everything seemed to fall for them. Trae Berhow hit 7 by himself as he led the Panthers with 23 points.

The defensive struggles continue for the Hogs. They went under a lot of screens tonight that led to the open 3s. Then they would get beat off the dribble, help comes, and that leads to more open threes.

I don’t know the answer to that other than to just stay in front of your man. Good thing I’m not the one paid to figure it out. Arkansas had major offensive woes in the preseason and against Mercer. Those seems all, but gone now. That was extremely encouraging to see. The ball is moving well. PG play is getting better with JD Notae and Chris Lykes becoming better creators.

Notae had a great night of basketball. 17 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and only 1 turnover. In fact, the Hogs took care of the ball all night. Just 5 turnovers as a team. Chris Lykes has his best game as a Hog with 26 points on 8-16 shooting. He made several big shots.

Jaylin Williams continues to be a great passer. His development there has been impressive. He had 11 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, with zero turnovers. Stanley Umude missed some easy shots, but I thought he played pretty well overall. 10 points and 9 rebounds for him tonight. Au’Diese Toney added 13 points and 6 rebounds.

Arkansas had to get things figured out defensively. The competition takes a step up now. Kansas State will play very hard-nosed defense on Monday. Allowing a team like that to shoot lights out will make your job very difficult.

This will seem like a sunshine, optimistic view, but it is simply the truth. When you bring a new team like Musselman does every year. Games like this are important. They are beneficial. Even if they are infuriating and stressful for all involved. These types of games build trust and chemistry in the locker room.

With that said, you cannot make it a habit of every game you play, but what we saw tonight will give Musselman a lot to correct and to praise. I guarantee you that Musselman learned some things about this team tonight. I certainly did.

Now the lights get a little brighter. Feast Week is among us and let’s hope the Hogs eat.