TULSA, (Okla.) — What an exciting back and forth opening half. The Hogs and Sooners played in a near-sprint the entire first 20 minutes. Generally, both teams were matching shot for shot, however, OU did lead by as much as 9 early, propped up by an insane 70-plus shooting percentage by the Sooners for the first 13 minutes. An 8-2 run late in the half—all scored by Ricky Council—pushed the Hogs into the lead going into halftime.
The pace of the game was surprising. Before today, OU was 360 out of 363 teams in possessions per game making them one ofthe slowest offenses in the country. Intentionally and unintentionally, Arkansas’s defense coerced OU into playing faster. When Arkansas was able to set up their half-court defense, they were very good at applying pressure on the ball and mucking up passing lanes. In transition, the Razorbacks had trouble early getting back and gave OU some easy looks.
The Sooner’s great shooting finally dropped back down to normal in the second half and Arkansas turned it up a notch on defense. The Hogs jumped out on a 14-6 run to begin the half, eventually growing the lead to 14. The Razorback’s defense was smothering, forcing turnovers left and right. One play, in particular, blew the roof off of the BOK Center. After a layup in transition by Makhi Mitchell, Anthony Black stole the ball off the inbound and slung it back to a wide-open Nick Smith Jr for a one-handed slam.
THAT'S HOW WE ROK THE BOK pic.twitter.com/QKwMlDSN9J— Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) December 10, 2022
OU battled back and started to match Arkansas’s shooting. With a minute left and down by 12, OU’s Grant Sherfield knocked down some clutch shots beyond the arch. However, it was not enough to completely overcome the Hogs’ second-half start.
Arkansas wins 88-78.
Arkansas shot very well from the field hitting 59.3% (35-59) of their shots and 33.3% (4-12) from downtown. The Hogs also had a great assist-to-turnover ratio, 19:9. Ricky Council and Nick Smith Jr led the team with 26 and 21-points, respectively. Council and Anthony Black both had 5 assists.
The hogs allowed OU to shoot 57.1% (32-56) on the floor and 46.7% (7-15) from the 3-point line. Arkansas lost the rebound battle 27 to 25 but was absolutely great at stealing the ball, taking away 10 of OU’s 15 turnovers.
Makhi Mitchell led the team with 6 boards, followed by KamaniJohnson’s 5. Jordan Walsh and Anthony Black both led the team with 2 steals, but the most impressive stat is that every Razorback that touch the court today recorded a steal.
In the absence of Trevon Brazile due to a season-ending injury, a lot of speculation has circulated from media members and Hog fans, alike, about who would fill the gap in production. Jordan Walsh answered that question. Walsh ended the game knocking down 55.5% of his shots including 2-5 (40%) from beyond the arch. Arguably, Brazile was the best 3-point shooter Arkansas had, or at least from what the team has shown on the court so far. Walsh showed he might be able to fill that gap. Walsh finished with 12-points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Arkansas will head to Little Rock on December 17th for their second neutral site game in a row to face Bradley University. At this time, the game is not scheduled to be televised.