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Hogs In Good Spot Despite Alabama Loss

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Notae and Williams leadership key for Arkansas down final stretch of tough games. What did Musselman and Williams say after the loss? What should we expect down the stretch for Arkansas?

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball, 19-6 (8-4 SEC), team suffered a one-point loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Despite the loss, this team looks a heck of a lot different than the one that lost five of six games including a loss to Hofstra in North Little Rock.

Head coach, Eric Musselman, has his team playing at a high level winning nine of its last ten games. That also includes a court storming victory at home over the top-ranked Auburn.

We’ve won nine in a row and we’re one point away from winning 10 in a row which is hard to do,” said Musselman. “They felt like they could win the game. We’re disappointed. The locker room’s hurting. Because we did fight and claw and put ourselves in position in the second half to potentially win a game against a team that has a high NET ranking and against a team that’s beaten Baylor and Houston. It’s tough for all of us now.”

The emergence of big man, Jaylin WIlliams, has helped the Hogs raise their level of play during the streak. Averaging a near double-double in points (10) and rebounds (9.2). HIs recent performances in the streak have him averaging 14.6 points per game and six double-doubles.

The Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer is also a Razorback in JD Notae. This is Notae’s team and the Razorbacks will only go as far as he can take him. It is very noticeable during games in which he is foul trouble early that the Razorbacks struggled from the field. Yes, the team will fight through the hardship. Just look at Saturday’s loss to Alabama that even though they were down double digits early they still fought to a five-point deficit at the half.

“It hurts when our best scorer, our best offensive facilitator is in foul trouble,” said Williams. “We have to figure out a way to keep him out of foul trouble. He has to be more disciplined in certain areas or something like that. We’ve always been next man up. We’ve had foul trouble before, and we kind of stay ready. But we have to be better as a team overall when we do lose our best scorer and best facilitator.”

Notae scored all of his 12 points in the second half, but his leadership has been and will be crucial down the stretch for this team. With a road game against Missouri on Tuesday at 8 PM in Columbia, Missouri Notae has a primetime matchup to show the conference that he is the best scorer on this team.

Arkansas has options when it comes to finding a third scorer. At times Stanley Umude, Au’Diese Toney and Trey Wade have come on strong at points this season. On Saturday, Umude played key minutes before fouling out. He was the second leading scorer against Alabama with 19 points. At points this season he has really put points up in spurts. He can give this team a boost whether it is between 8-15 points each night. Umude can put up points in a flurry like his game against the Georgia Bulldogs where he scored 31 points on 12-20 shooting (6-12 from three).

Before yesterday’s loss, Toney was shooting at an elite level from the field hovering around 55-percent. Toney was 1-11 shooting in the Alabama loss but his absolutely capable of being a factor for the Hogs with the ball in his hand.

Finally, Wade is the glue guy for this Razorback team. He doesn’t do anything spectacular but will play great in your face defense, box out and rebound the ball well. He is the team player you want and can bring the offense together with an extra pass. You can’t depend on him in transition if you want him to create his own shot. Wade is at his best when he catches the pass, squares up and shoots. He hasn’t scored in the previous two games against Alabama and Auburn, but the Hogs wouldn’t be where they are without Wade. His performance against Missouri helped start this streak the Razorbacks are on when he had a stat line of 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.

This will likely be the Razorbacks lineup they go to through this final stretch of games as this group ranks in the top 10 in the country in effectiveness. If this game were played in Bud Walton or at the SEC Tournament this game could have been a win for Arkansas. They will learn from this and like Notae said, “he needs to be better.” That’s not a good thing for the rest of the SEC.

Regular Season Games Remaining:

  • 2/15/2022 AT Missouri, 8PM on SEC Network
  • 2/19/2022 vs Tennessee, 3PM on ESPN/2
  • 2/22/2022 AT Florida, 6PM on ESPN/2
  • 2/26/2022 vs Kentucky, 1PM on CBS
  • 3/2/2022 vs LSU, 8PM on ESPN/U
  • 3/5/2022 AT Tennessee TBD/ESPN/2