FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Hogs had no answer for Mizzou’s zone defense for the first 10 minutes of the game. Instead of attacking the paint, the Hogs settled for three-point shots or long jumpers from just inside the line. Before a 2-point jumper at the 9:17 mark by Jordan Walsh, the Hogs were 3-15 from the field, scoring only 8 points. The Tigers, however, jumped out to an early 25-8 lead—Arkansas’s worst deficit of the season to date.
Arkansas’s offense began to awaken once freshman Joseph Pinion entered the game. Pinion’s first field goal did not come until the 4:27 mark, but just the threat of a three-point shooter was enough to loosen up the Tiger’s defense.
The Razorbacks began to chip away at the 17-point lead until 2:41 was left in the half. Arkansas then went on an 8-0 run,capped off with an electric 3-point shot by Pinion with 32 seconds left. The Hogs trailed going into halftime 34-27.
To say Arkansas struggled in the first half, would be an understatement. Arkansas shot better as the half went on, but still only shot just 10-28 (35.7%) and 2-12 (16.7%) from the 3-point line. The Hogs also turned the ball over 10 times, 5 of which were unforced. To add to the madness, Arkansas only shot 50% from the charity stripe, which has been a strength of Eric Musselman’s teams at Arkansas.
The managing editor of The Best of Arkansas Sports, Andrew Hutchinson, shows in his tweet that the stats could have looked even worse if it weren’t for a good final 7 minutes of the half
Coming out of the break only down by single digits was huge for the Razorbacks. Arkansas cut the lead to 1 in just three minutes with a Pinion 3-point jumper. At the 4:17 mark, Arkansas took the lead with a layup by Devo Davis and never looked back, but the previous basket for Arkansas is where they really sealed the deal.
After a steal by Pinion, Anthony Black passed the ball to Ricky Council in transition for a 2-handed slam, sparking a great second-half performance by Council. Council shot 1-6 and had just 4 points in the first half. Including the aforementioned dunk, Council scored 21 points in the second half, going 5-9 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. Council’s free throws down the stretch ended up icing the game for the Hogs. Arkansas wins 74-68.
Arkansas finished shooting 26-54 (48.1%) and 6-21 (28.6%) from beyond the arch. After a bad first half from the line, the Hogs ended up scoring 2 more free throws than Mizzou, going 16-23. The Razorbacks also had 13 assists to 17 turnovers.
Defensively, the Hogs executed quite nicely. Missouri was a team that averaged around 80 points per game and their star player, Kobe Brown, had just come off of two consecutive +30-point games. Arkansas held the Tigers to 24-54 (44.4%) from the field and 6-19 (31.6%) from the 3-point line. The Hogs forced 10 turnovers, stealing the ball 7 times. Arkansas also won the rebound battle 40 to 23, destroying the Tigers on both the offensive and defensive boards.
Ricky Council led the team with 25 points, followed by Joseph Pinion’s 13 coming off the bench. Anthony Black and Devo Davis both had 5 assists. Kamani Johnson led the team with 8 rebounds, but three other players had at least 7 themselves: Makhi Mitchell, Jordan Walsh, and Ricky Council. Devo Davis was the team leader in steals with 3, but Walsh, Black, Johnson, and Pinion all recorded one of their own.
The Razorbacks travel to the Plains to take on the Auburn Tigers on January 7th at 7:30cst. Auburn dropped one today to Georgia in Athens, so look for Arkansas to be in a fight as the Tigers try to rebound from the loss.