By Nate Allen
FAYETTEVILLE – During Abayomi “Bay-Bay” Iyiola’s two injury-plagued Arkansas years playing but one game, Razorbacks fans wondered what Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman saw in the 6-10 transfer forward via Stetson University.
Saturday night at Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock they learned the hard way.
For his new home with the Hofstra University Pride in Hempstead, N.Y., Iyiola returned to his old Arkansas home and hung an 18 points/14 double augmented by 22 points each from Hofstra guards Aaron Estrada and Jalen Ray to stun the nationally 24th-ranked Razorbacks, 89-81.
It ruined the Hogs’ annual trip from their campus in Fayetteville to Central Arkansas even as it was the Pride’s trip beginning badly.
Coach Speedy Claxton’s team was supposed to fly Friday from New York to Little Rock but spent Friday night diverted to Washington D.C. because of weather and were without guard Zack Cooks, their leading scorer averaging 17.4 points.
That couldn’t deter the Pride whipping the Razorbacks nearly start to finish. The Hogs never led in the second half and led only 43 seconds of the first half they trailed, 40-32 at intermission.
““We got outplayed for sure,” Musselman said.
Clobbered, 88-66 their last game the previous Saturday in Tulsa by the Oklahoma Sooners in Tulsa, the once 9-0 Razorbacks reel, 9-2 into Tuesday night’s 6 o’clock SEC Network televised game with Elon University at Walton Arena, the Hogs’ nonconference finale leading into their Dec. 29 SEC opener at Mississippi State.
“We haven’t had a ballclub that didn’t compete for 40 minutes,” Musselman said. “But it’s happened twice now. “I think Hofstra played harder than we played, which is really hard for me to say because I haven’t said it very often as a coach. We’ve got to get better. I don’t know what else to say. We’ve got two days before we play again, and I have no idea what we’ll do.”
Musselman knew a healthy Iyiola would be better than the injured one (ACL surgery) he coached at Arkansas. But he couldn’t have been prepared for his Hogs to be trounced by their old friend.
“I thought Bay-Bay was phenomenal,” Musselman said. “I thought he outplayed every guy on our roster. All you have to do is pick up the stat sheet.”
The stat sheet showed Arkansas, strafed by 13 Oklahoma Sooners 3-point shots, outshooting the Pride on threes 12 of 31 to 7 of 22 but outscored, 44-26 on points in the paint, fouling too much, 11 of 13 free throws to Hofstra’s 20 of 23, rebounding too little, outboarded, 40-33 with Iyiola’s 14 and Estrada’s 10 both surpassing Jaylin Williams’ eight leading Arkansas.
Not only did the Hogs commit 15 turnovers against Hofstra’s zone to the Pride’s 11, but Hofstra outscored Arkansas, 22-10 off turnovers.
“They scored 89 points,” Musselman said. “They led the entire game and we got out-rebounded by seven. If your shots aren’t falling and you get out-rebounded and you don’t defend very well, you’re probably going to be in for a long night, which is what happened.”
Subtract Arkansas guards JD Notae and Chris Lykes, both off the
bench scoring 20 and 19 points respectively shooting 8 of 16 and 5 of 11 from the field, and the Hogs struggled against Hofstra’s zone.
“They are not a team that plays a lot of zone and they just kept the lane compact and dared us to shoot the ball and dug ourselves a hole,” Musselman said, ‘It’s hard to overcome some of our shooting percentages. Stanley Umude 3 of 9, Devo, 3 of 11. J-Will (Jaylin Williams) did have eight rebounds but Bay-Bay had 14. Just a lot of things effort wise we’ve got to correct.”
He started listing them.
“We’ve just got a lot of holes,” Musselman said. “ We’ve been searching for point guard play. Now we’re searching for shooting. Rebounding has been a strength. Tonight we lose on the glass by seven. We had really good practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I told people Thursday’s practice was as bad as I’ve been around.”
Other than spurts like an 11-0 second half Razorbacks run cutting Hofstra’s lead to 64-61 before the Pride prevailed, it seemed Saturday’s game didn’t improve over Thursday’s practice.
Hofstra, opening the season taking them No. 15 Houston to overtime before losing to the Cougars in Houston and only losing, 69-67 to then No. 20 Maryland at Maryland, claimed its first victory since 1976 over a Top 25 team.
The Pride of the Colonial Athletic Conference take a 7-5 record into its next nonconference game Wednesday against Monmouth College in Monmouth, N.J.