This season is rough. So rough that I rarely feel the need to dress up the opening passage. It’s a road loss to a better team, which is a thing that happens to teams that aren’t that good.
We aren’t bad, because we beat the bad teams, but we also aren’t good. Clear as mud, right?
Let’s jump in.
I can’t decide if I love or hate our good basketball moments
We have this maddening habit of throwing together 2-3 minutes of really good two-way basketball, which is always just enough to do the following things:
- It makes the games fun to watch. This is important, because there have been many minutes that are not fun to watch. But also...
- It reminds you of the ceiling that the team had this season, and
- It sets you up for the inevitable emotional collapse when we drop open dunks, throw away passes in the back court, and drop the ball for no reason (which all happened in the last ten minutes)
In a way, it’s almost easier when you’re completely outclassed. To see the ceiling, watch it fall apart, and wonder why it shows up so rarely... that’s tough.
Tonight, as you can probably guess by now, was more of the same. We had passages of really nice basketball, but they were overshadowed by dry spells on offense and poor turnovers. Ugh.
The bench didn’t travel well
After a stellar effort at home against Auburn, the Aggie supporting cast was non-existent tonight. Four points and five turnovers from the bench in 35 total minutes.
When you play a team that runs like Arkansas, you can’t ask five guys to carry the load for the entire game.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
Despite our dry spells, we actually shot the ball pretty well today (9/11 FT and over 50% in total from the field), but we were just sooooooo careless down the stretch.
When Robert Williams dunked to cut the lead to four with less than ten minutes remaining, Arkansas was rattled. The crowd was quiet, the hogs were playing tight, and the momentum had clearly shifted.
We then followed that up with three turnovers and a bad shot.
Arkansas didn’t play particularly well during that stretch, either... but that was our chance to really push for a victory. We had edged the lead down to four, yet we couldn’t take advantage of an extended stretch where the Hogs played poorly. A good team extends that run and takes the lead, and we just aren’t there this year.
We had two more ridiculous turnovers late in the game, followed by our ‘scramble and make things happen and make the opposing fans nervous for a bit’ routine. But the hogs hit their free throws down the stretch, and that was that.
I don’t know how the team responds in their final three games. The trip to Mizzou looks winnable, but without DJ Hogg, the home games against Alabama and Kentucky are dicey.
I’m proud of the fight this team is showing, but these final weeks might come down to talent and depth. And as much as I hate to say it, a 1-2 finish with an early SEC Tourney exit is what I’d pick if I had to choose an outcome.