Thu January 25, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Get Blasted by Ole Miss
By Otis Kirk

Arkansas continued its downward spiral with a one-sided 77-51 loss to Ole Miss on Wednesday night in Oxford.

The Razorbacks played without guard Tramon Mark due to a migraine and then lost forward Trevon Brazile to a knee injury for the second half. In 12 minutes, Brazile had three points and four rebounds with all his scoring coming from the free throw line. He missed his only shot from the field. Arkansas (10-9, 1-5) continued to be winless in road games. Eric Musselman talked about the status of his team afterward.

"These guys are working but when the game hits opposition is outrebounding us, outshooting us, outscoring us," Musselman said. "Tonight rebounding. We did not have a rebound from the center spot. Not one defensive rebound. And we didn’t shoot it well. The only thing I know is keep working but not a good performance."

Temple transfer Khalif Battle got the rare start and topped the Arkansas scoring chart with 11 points while also adding in four rebounds and two assists. Former Morrilton standout Joseph Pinion got extensive active playing 21 minutes. Pinion responded with 10 points, one rebound and two assists. Arkansas only made five 3-pointers on 22 attempts (23%) with Pinion making two of them. The Hogs shot 33% from the field making 17-of-51 attempts.

"I think injuries allow other people to try to step up and garner more minutes," Musselman said. "So other guys got opportunities tonight. Every team goes thorough injuries, every team goes through players in and out of the lineup. It allowed other people an opportunity to play. And then you go back and watch the film and try to dissect the players the extra minutes.

"But we’re not shooting the ball, we’re not defending well. We turned the ball over to start the game way too much. Got the turnovers a little bit under control. I thought we moved the ball better tonight than we had with 13 assists on 17 made field goals. But just go up and down [boxscore) and 2 for 9, 3 for 10, 1 for 5, 0 for 5. You’ve got to make shots, and certainly defending becomes a problem. We were up on the glass at one point rebounding the ball, and then the second half the rebounding was heavily tilted towards Ole Miss."

Ole Miss (16-3, 3-3) never trailed in the game. The largest lead was 29 points, 77-48, with 2:05 remaining in the game. The Rebels outrebounded the Hogs 43-28 and scored 22 points off 14 Arkansas turnovers.

"I just talked about the centers defensive rebounding, zero, and the point guard play with turnovers certainly hurt," Musselman said. "On a positive note I did think El Ellis gave us good minutes in his 20. I thought D. (Denijay) Harris played super hard even when we took him out to start the game. He wasn’t hurting us. I thought he had a defensive presence. Just look across the board. Shots not falling. All you can do is get back to try to work."

Ole Miss was led in scoring by Jaylen Murray with 21. Matthew Murrell followed with 18, Jaemyn Brakefield 11 points and Allen Flanigan 10 points and 11 boards from his guard spot.

Musselman was asked about the status of Mark and the extent of Brazile's knee injury?

"T-Mark didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday," Musselman said. "Obviously has a migraine. I’m not a doctor. He’s got a migraine, so that is what it is. With Brazile’s knee, he’s had soreness since Monday’s live practice and just wasn’t able to go in the second half.

"I’m not a doctor. Therefore, for me, right now it’s soreness. You know what I mean? Anytime there’s soreness involved, we don’t have our team doctor with us, so you go back home. Our trainer is really good. He’s usually spot-on with all the evaluations, so until I get further word, it is what Matt (Townsend), our trainer, he’s been excellent since he’s been with us and right now he’s calling it soreness. So rehab and things like that, and you let the doctor check it out as well."

Senior guard Davonte "Devo" Davis didn't play in the second half. Musselman said he was healthy. Musselman is known to prefer a smaller rotation, but instead with this team frequently has to play basically everyone on the roster.

"Yeah, I mean everybody’s getting an opportunity," Musselman said. "Like I said, point guard play, turnovers, shooters… Shooters are struggling shooting the ball. At the center spot, we had zero defensive rebounds. There’s a lot of areas. It’s not one particular player. It’s not one particular position. It’s across the board. We’re getting out-played at every position right now."

Musselman has praised how this team practices, but it's obvious they haven't carried that over to the games. Musselman was asked why?

"Well right now, teams are just outplaying us," Musselman said. "You can have great practices, but teams have size on us at certain positions. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it 100 times, I’d rather have a team play well in games and not practice well. We’ve had some guys not practice well over the last three years, but certainly produced in the game."

Arkansas will host Kentucky (14-4, 4-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m. and televised on ESPN. The Wildcats are coming off a 79-62 loss to South Carolina on Tuesday night.