Sun February 04, 2024

By Lance Hawley

LSU Brings Hogs Back to Earth with Easy Win
By Otis Kirk

Any momentum Arkansas gained in a close loss to Kentucky and road win over Missouri was lost Saturday when LSU defeated the Razorbacks 95-74.

The Razorbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a hook shot by Jalen Graham, but that was the lone time they were on top Saturday. LSU had an answer for anything Arkansas tried including shooting 52% (12-23) from behind the 3-point line. Eric Musselman took notice of a 29% shooter from behind the 3-point line entering the game, Will Baker hitting 4 of 5 and scoring 25 points.

"Certainly you have to give LSU credit," Musselman said. "But we’ve got to get a lot better. Defending the three has been a problem all year. It’s our job as coaches to get them as coaches to get them to execute the game plan. We knew that they’re a good three-point shooting team. 

"(Will) Baker have a career night, 9 of 11, 4 of 5. I mean, those numbers are hard to do when you’re in a gym alone. So his 25 points … (Jalen) Cook’s been a starter for them. He comes in and goes 7 of 7 from the foul line. So defensively, not good. Offensively, not good. I was hoping we’d be able to capitalize off our last two games. Obviously, we did not."

LSU shot 55% from the floor compared to 44 for Arkansas. The Razorbacks were only 3 of 13 from behind the 3-point stripe for 23%. LSU was up 45-30 at halftime behind hot shooting from Baker and others.

"He did everything well," Musselman said of Baker. "He made threes, he posted up, he beat us off the dribble. I’m sure it’s a career night for him. I don’t have his cum stats for his career in front of me, but I would assume that’s as good a game as he’s played in his entire career."

Musselman talked more about why LSU had such success shooting from distance against the Hogs.

"Well, it’s defending the 3, it’s defending the dribble-drive," Musselman said and laughed. "I mean, we’re not doing either. If we were, we’d probably have a better record. It’s our job to get players to improve. It’s our job to get players to follow the game plan. We have not been good defending the 3 all year. Can never compare teams of the past, but we’re doing the same drills. Just execution come game time is not there."

Tramon Mark topped the Hogs with 20 points and added six rebounds. Graham finished with 18 points and four rebounds. Makhi Mitchell added 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. Laydon Blocker chipped in nine points, three rebounds and a trio of assists. Joseph Pinion finished with two points and a pair of rebounds in nine minutes.

For LSU in addition to Baker, Cook had 20 points, three rebounds and a trio of assists. Jordan Wright had 13 points, six rebounds and a half dozen assists. Mike Williams III had 13 points. Trae Hannibal also had six points, half dozen rebounds and four assists. Jalen Reed has six points and seven rebounds.

Arkansas (11-11, 2-7) will now get a week off before returning to Bud Walton Arena to host Georgia at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network next Saturday. LSU (12-9, 4-4) will be at Tennessee on Wednesday.