Vandy Beats Hogs

Razorback Guard Chris Lykes (11) drives past Commodore Guards Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) and Jordan Wright (4) during a basketball game between Arkansas and Vanderbilt on Tuesday, 01/04/2022 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville AR (Alan Jamison, Nate Allen Sports Service)

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – JD Notae came back while Stanley Umude and Au’Diese Toney forged to the front.

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It still wasn’t enough for Arkansas.

The once 9-0 Razorbacks, now 10-4, fell 75-74 to the Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday night losing the fourth of their last five games including 0-2 in the SEC.

They opened in the league last week losing at Mississippi State and now have lost in the SEC at home to Vanderbilt going into Saturday’s noon SEC game at Texas A&M on the SEC Network.

A&M, 12-2 overall, opened in the SEC winning, 81-79 Tuesday night at Georgia.

Coach Jerry Stackhouse’s Vanderbilt Commodores, last playing on Dec. 23, improved to 9-4 overall while winning their SEC opener and host South Carolina in Saturday’s SEC game in Nashville.

Notae, the SEC’s second leading scorer to Vandy’s Scotty Pippen Jr. and missing the Mississippi State game with illness, scored  16 points and made five steals  with five assists Tuesday. He took Arkansas’ last shot, a three rimming out at the buzzer after Vandy’s Myles Stute blocked an Umude shot with :02 left.

Umude, the graduate transfer forward via the University of South Dakota, scored his Razorbacks career high 28 points Tuesday including 11 of 20 from the field with 3 of 7 treys, and 3 of 4 from the free throw line.

Toney, the graduate transfer forward via the University of Pittsburgh and early-season sensation recently slumping, reemerged with 20 points, including 6 of 7 from the field, and played some great defense on Pippen.

Though Pippen scored Vandy’s high, 22 points including 9 of 12 from the free throw line, he committed seven turnovers often under Toney’s pressure.

Usually reliable Razorbacks sophomore guard Devo Davis opened on Pippen but never got in sync, yanked with two fouls  for the first half’s duration at 14:30. Davis was  benched again after a brief second-half reappearance with three turnovers, zero points, zero rebounds and zero assists for just nine minutes.

Was Davis also ill?

“Good question,” Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. “He just didn’t play well.”

Calling the earliest timeout in his three Arkansas seasons with the Hogs down, 5-0 at 18:51 of the first half which Arkansas would lead, 40-35 at intermission, Musselman said the first five minutes of the first half and first five minutes of the second half ultimately most sealed Arkansas’ fate.

He said that though Arkansas turned a gloom and doom, 75-70 deficit with 26 seconds left into an up for grabs game featuring Notae’s and-one 3-point play with 20 seconds left, Chris Lykes’ steal and getting fouled to hit 1 of 2 free throws at 17 seconds.

Lykes rebounded his miss and fed Jaxson Robinson shooting a trey that wouldn’t fall.

Arkansas got it back with Vandy’s Myles Stute blocking Umude’s shot out of bounds before Notae last try glanced barely awry.

“We don’t want to be in that position, obviously,” Umude said. “But I think Jaxson got a good look. I had a layup that I should have finished and then JD got a good look too. So we’ll live with that and we just got to keep working to get better.”

Musselman didn’t bemoan the game’s finish nearly like each half’s start.

“I thought we had a lot of clean looks,” Musselman said. “It’s kind of been how it’s rolled with us for the last four or five games. But to me it was the first five minutes of the game, and the first five minutes of the second half to be honest with you.

I looked at the stat sheet during the game and we were 7 of 10 from the field and had five turnovers. I don’t know how that’s possible when you’re shooting at a 70% clip and you turn the ball over that much. Then we got out-rebounded by seven, but I thought we played much, much harder than we have.”

Musselman grimaced at Arkansas’ 14-14 turnovers/assist ratio though Vandy’s was worse, 17 assists to 14 turnovers, and the Hogs were outrebounded, 35-28 despite Arkansas center Jaylin Williams’ game-leading 10 rebounds.But the Toney led team  defense on Pippen, limiting him to 11 attempts from the field and forcing seven turnovers, met Musselman’s approval. However Musselman wasn’t expecting Vandy reserve guard Trey Thomas scoring 15 points, including 5 of 7 treys when the Commodores otherwise shot 5 of 18 treys.

“Trey Thomas, really killed us,” Musselman said. “Him going 5 of 7, you can’t have that.”

Even with the good defense played against him, Pippen was huge in Vandy’s second half stretch taking the 75-70 lead and hit what proved a devastating basket with Vandy inbounding with just 1.2 seconds left in the first half.

Musselman praised Toney and the offensive part of Umude’s game.

“We need him (Umude) to defensive rebound more at that power forward spot in the SEC,” Musselman said. “You can’t play 33 minutes and have one defensive rebound because we did get out-rebounded by seven. So there’s a lot of things we have to keep getting better at for sure. One of them being Stanley rebounding at the defensive end, but his scoring in the first half, he kept the game close because he shot at such an incredibly high clip.”

Toney for the first time in awhile looked like the MVP of the Hall of Fame Classic when back in November he led Arkansas to that tournament’s championship over Kansas State and Cincinnati in Kansas City.

“I thought Au’Diese’s defense was really good on Pippen Jr.,” Musselman said. “And then Au’Diese played kind of like he did in Kansas City moving without the ball. Feet set three. I thought he was phenomenal, especially in the second half.”

Kamani Johnson, the Razorbacks reserve forward left home from the Mississippi State game under disciplinary suspension, is restored to the team and played against Vanderbilt.

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