Fayetteville, (Ar.) — Trap games have been a struggle for Arkansas this year. They nearly dropped an early game againstUNC Greensboro before the Crimson Classic against OU, lost to Mississippi State before playing Texas A&M on the road, and now they face arguably their biggest trap game of the year.
The Hogs draw Georgia—a team that has struggled most of the season, but has garnered some good wins, including a win against Kentucky just 10 days ago—right before playing No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. However, tonight was different.Arkansas was completely focused on its opponent on the court,and it showed.
From tipoff, Arkansas imposed its will on the Bulldogs. Five minutes into the game, the Hogs went on an 8-minute, 20-5 run. All but one of the players on the court for Arkansas recorded a point on that run and they were scoring from all three levels. Three-pointers by Nick Smith Jr. and Ricky Council IV, along with some powerful finishes at the rim by Jalen Graham and the Mitchell twins, were just some of the highlights that happened threw the middle of the first half.
Yet, the best highlight comes from one of many explosive dunks from Council IV. Anthony Black found Council in transition and, as only Ricky can, he just decided to grace us with another in-game reverse slam.
FOURTH WITH THE FORCE pic.twitter.com/XWmaj34gD3— Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) February 22, 2023
Arkansas began to cool down the last 5 minutes but not by much, scoring another 12 points before the end of the half. Arkansas shut Georgia down offensively. The Bulldogs scored just 23 points in the first half.
In the second half, Georgia started to come to life a little on the offensive side of the court. The Bulldogs started to attack the paint hard to draw fouls, and it worked. Georgia is one of the best teams in the SEC at getting to the free-throw line. They knocked down 21-27 and scored 42 points in the second half.
But even a great second half for the Bulldogs could not stop Arkansas’s offense. Nick Smith Jr. just took over the half, hitting four 3-point baskets throughout the half and leading the Hogs to a 54-point half performance.
With under 4 minutes left, Coach Musselman started to sub in bench players, but that didn’t stop Arkansas from scoring. Joseph Pinion put up a pair of 3s with the minutes winding down and walk-on Lawson Blake scored his first points of the season with an and-1 layup that nearly blew the roof off of Bud Walton Arena. Georgia’s Justin Hill made a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, but it was for naught.
Hogs win 97-65.
Arkansas gave their best offensive performance of the year so far against the Bulldogs. They shot 63% (37-58) from the field and 55% (11-20) from 3-point range. According to HogStats.com on Twitter, shooting 63% in an SEC game is a record for the Razorbacks. Eleven 3-point baskets in a game is also a season-high for the Hogs.
They were not very good from the charity stripe, knocking down just 54% of their attempts, but Arkansas recorded 26 assists and only turned the ball over 5 times (also a season-best). That is better than a 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Razorbacks allowed Georgia to shoot 36% (19-52) from the field and 33% (6-18) from beyond the arch. Arkansas forced 13 turnovers—3 steals—and won the rebound battle, 33-29
Nick Smith Jr. had a game and career-high scoring performance with 26 points. Ricky Council IV had the second highest-point total for the game with 22 points coming off of the bench. Anthony Black was an excellent facilitator with 8 assists—7 of which came in the first half. Except for Jordan Walsh, every player to play significant minutes recorded at least 2 assists. Walsh led the team with 7 boards. Makhi Mitchell and Jalen Graham followed closely with 5 each.
Arkansas will face its biggest challenge of the season as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 2 Crimson Tide. Alabama has been, by far, the best team in the SEC this year, and knocking off the Tide at home would do wonders forArkansas’s NCAA tournament seeding. Tipoff is scheduled for February 25th at 1:00 pm CST.