Y’all, what’s going on?
From day one in the SEC, “at Arkansas” was the one game you could comfortably mark as a loss. Even in our legitimately good years, this building was a house of horrors that we just couldn’t solve.
And this, of all years… this is the year we finally solve the riddle.
Savion Flagg Made The Leap
We spoke ad nauseum in the preseason about the progress we needed from Flagg if this team was to be taken seriously. It was a point we tried to hammer home, and it was a point that took on extra significance when Gilder was lost for the year. Flagg has been really good in spurts, but our disaster zone in January generally aligned with his dip in form.
In the last three games, he has averaged 21.3 points and 8.3 rebounds on 60/50/83 shooting splits, and he was the best player in every game we played this week.
He’s the strongest single case we’ve had for an SEC Player of the Week nod.
Putting It All Together
I don’t really know how to describe it, other than to say… we felt comfortable.
We shot our best percentage from the field (58%) all season. We never trailed in the second half. Eight players played between 13 and 26 minutes. We killed the Hogs on the glass. And most importantly… we held our nerve when the game got tight.
A 11-2 run in the latter stages of the second half allowed us to pull away for good, and we closed the freakin’ door. The Hogs fouled to extend the game to an almost annoying extent, but we held our nerve and hit 10 of 14 free throws.
Final Score: Texas A&M 87, Arkansas 80
- We touched on Flagg already, so let’s lead this section with Mitchell. He was hounded by foul trouble, so much so that he only played 20 minutes… and he still grabbed 20 points. Mitchell now has 18+ in six of his last seven games, and he has firmly established himself as a legitimate SEC scorer. And we’ve got him for two more years.
- Starks sealed the game. He had a turnover-laden night, and he was uncharacteristically poor from the line, but when we needed him most he sealed the game. I struggle to think of a more polarizing player in our recent memory.
- Chris Collins hit the score sheet! He was 4-4 from the line late, and he had four steals, three assists, and no turnovers. Solid effort.
- It looks like Nebo is finally healthy again. He missed two games, and was clearly limited for two more, but he had it all yesterday. 14 points and 6 rebounds on 5-6 shooting. Welcome back.
I’m not a terribly young person. I have a wife, a kid, a mortgage, and a handful of gray hairs… and I was not alive the last time we won at Arkansas.
Now, let’s rewind seventeen days. On February 7th, this team was 1-8 in SEC play. Had you taken a snapshot of the college basketball scene on that day, you would have seen 50ish teams across 32 conferences with one or fewer conference wins. That’s 50ish teams with nothing to play for, and 50ish teams with 8-10 games on their schedule all the same.
How many of those teams went on to win four of their next five? That’s a great display of character, and you should be proud of what these guys have done down the stretch. I certainly am.
Next up is a trip to Baton Rouge to spoil LSU’s run at an SEC crown.