AUBURN, Ala— One could imagine Auburn’s desire for revenge after last year’s 80-74 overtime thriller at Bud Walton, knocking them from the top spot in the AP Poll. Pair that with an embarrassing, mid-week loss on the road to Georgia, and you have a recipe for some great motivation. In addition, Arkansas went into the game with a loss to LSU in Baton Rouge and a sloppy win over Mizzou.
It begs the question, will this young, injury-riddled, down-on-their-luck Arkansas team be able to overcome a highly motivated Auburn team on the road? The answer, we found out, was a resounding “no”.
The Tigers controlled the game from the opening tip-off to the very last point scored. Auburn jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half, aided by an uncharacteristic 3-point performance. Before tonight’s game, Auburn was ranked number 339 in the country in 3-point shooting, and the Hogs claimed a top 20 3-point defense, but Auburn knocked down four in the first nine minutes.
Arkansas did a decent job getting to the basket, but the balls just were not dropping. And the Razorbacks had their fair share of second-chance shots but failed to finish a lot of times. At the 16:21 mark, Jordan Walsh missed a jumper, catching his own rebound, and was fouled by Jaylin Williams (no, not that Jaylin Williams).
Case in point, the Hogs inbound the ball to Ricky Council IV who misses a 3-point attempt, Kamani Johnson rebounds the miss but his layup attempt was blocked. Walsh rebounds, missed his layup, and rebounds his own miss just to miss again. But Johnson rebounds it this time only to tie up with an Auburn player. It took 20 seconds—nearly an entire play clock length—for all of that to happen.
Arkansas went into halftime down 36-25. The Razorbacks were 8-17 for free throws, 1-7 on layups—which should be their bread and butter with all the length they have—were 1-6 from 3-point range, and gave up 15 points via 8 turnovers, so to be quite honest, only being down by 11 was a good thing.
Arkansas’s second-half performance was better, but not by much. The Hogs were nearly identical on defense, giving up exactly 36 points in both halves. Arkansas also started to shut it down at the 3-point range, holding the Tigers to 2-9.
Anthony Black single-handedly kept the Hogs in the game, scoring 13 of the first 17 second-half points. Unfortunately, it was not enough to secure a win. Troubles at the free throw line and finishing in the paint continued to plague Arkansas’s offense. Auburn’s Johni Broome was a problem in the post, blocking 6 shots under the rim and affecting countless other shots. For reference, Arkansas only blocked 5 shots all night.
Arkansas loses on the road 72-59.
Arkansas finished shooting 33.9% (19-56) and a lowly 12.5% (2-16) from the 3-point range. Their assist-to-turnover ratio was bad with 9 assists to 14 turnovers. Probably the most frustrating stat was Arkansas’s abysmal effort at the charity stripe. The Hogs made 19 of their 32 free throw attempts for 59.4%. For those doing the math, that is enough points to wipe away the entire point deficit.
Arkansas’s defense allowed the Tigers to shoot 43.6% (24-55) from the field and 33.3% (7-21) from downtown. The Hogs struggled stealing the ball/forcing turnovers. Usually, that’s something in which Arkansas excels. They forced 8 turnovers and generated just 4 steals. The Hogs did smash the boards much better than Auburn. The Hogs won the rebound battle 45 to 32, including 17 offensive rebounds.
Anthony Black led the Hogs with 23 points. Ricky Council IV was the only other player to score double digits with 14. Black was also the assists leader. Jordan Walsh led the team with 10 rebounds, followed by Black and Makhi Mitchell, both with 7 boards.
The Razorbacks will not have time to wallow as they face No. 7 Alabama at Bud Walton on January, 11th at 6:00cst.