Sun January 21, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Fall Again at Home in SEC Action
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- Any momentum Arkansas gained from a narrow win over Texas A&M vanished on Saturday when South Carolina never trailed while handing the Razorbacks a 77-64 loss.

Arkansas (10-8, 1-4) has now lost three games in Bud Walton Arena including two one-sided SEC games. Arkansas fell to Auburn 83-51 on Jan. 6 to open SEC play. That was the largest deficit ever suffered by the Hogs in Bud Walton Arena. South Carolina held a 39-27 lead at intermission and Eric Musselman wasn't pleased.

"Obviously the first  half we did not play with nearly enough energy," Musselman said. "Two home games, now, this game and the Auburn game where competitive spirit, competitive stamina has not been there. Give South Carolina a lot of credit. They have the record they do for a reason, they are a really good basketball team. We were not up to the challenge today."

South Carolina (15-3, 3-2) outrebounded the Razorbacks 39-27. The Gamecocks shot 52% from the field while holding Arkansas to 37. Both teams attempted 3-pointers with the visitors making nine and Arkansas only five.

"It was obviously disappointing," Musselman said. "I thought we battled against Texas A&M. So obviously toughness, rebounding, offensively sharing the ball. There’s a whole bunch of stuff. We played against a good team that played with more energy and more connective-ness and more toughness than we played with."

Musselman normally prefers to allow his team to play through mistakes, but he called a pair of timeouts in the first half not 30 seconds apart on Saturday. He talked about what his message was to the team.

"Just that we’ve got to play harder," Musselman said. "I mean, that was a pretty simple message. … The team’s got to play harder, tougher. We all see it and ultimately it always falls on the coaches, and so we have to do our part as well."

Musselman played 12 different players in the first half and seemed irritated when asked if that inconsistency in the rotation was having a negative impact on the team?

"You can’t go into a game and give up an easy basket cut," Musselman said. "You’ve got share the ball on offense. There’s a whole bunch of stuff. And then above all else, just playing hard, yeah.

"I mean, at some point…what do you want us to do? Not try different players? I mean."

A surprising stat from the game was the Gamecocks hitting the 9-of-18 from 3-point territory. They entered the game shooting 32.9% from distance.

"We haven’t guarded the 3 all year," Musselman said. "I mean… Again, it’s our issue to fix as a staff, but we’re doing the same drills we did when we led the nation in defending the 3. I don’t like to talk about the past, but I have found myself doing that a lot this year. We know who their shooters are. We knew B.J. Mack… I mean, we talked about it. They’re all assigned a color on the strength of shooting ability.

"So you’ve got to be able to guard. I mean, we played zone, we played switch pick-and-roll, we tried everything tonight. And none of it was successful. And it’s not going to be successful unless everybody’s connected, everybody’s communicating on the floor. Doesn’t matter if you play zone, play man, trap… So again, that’s the toughness, the effort. All that stuff’s gotta improve."

Big things were expected of forward Trevon Brazile entering the season. On Saturday, he had three points on only a trio of shots. He did add six rebounds, but Arkansas needs much more than that on the offensive end.

"I mean, you got to run the floor," Musselman said. "Again, getting open is a problem. Not pointing any one guy out but you got to get open, you got to curl, you got to slash from the weak side. There’s a whole bunch of stuff and then we got to see guys when that happens."

Tramon Mark topped the Hogs with 18 points. El Ellis added nine points while Davonte "Devo" Davis and Jermiah Daveport each had eight. Chandler Lawson contributed four points and topped the Hogs in rebounding with seven.

Mack had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the visitors. Zachary Davis contributed 12 points while Ta'Lon Cooper and Collin Murray-Boyles each had 11. Leading scorer Meechie Johnson was held to eight points and chipped in seven rebounds.

Arkansas will be at Ole Miss (15-2, 2-2) on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. The Rebels were slated to be at Auburn Saturday night.

Photos Courtesy of Craven Whitlow CW3 Sports Action