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Arkansas is on pace for its best SEC baseball season in history.

Van Horn has Arkansas baseball on cusp of historic season

Eric Bolin

With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.

Well, well, well. Look what we have here.

An SEC baseball season midway through and the Arkansas Razorbacks are at the top. Dave Van Horn’s bunch leads the SEC through 5 series. At 11-4, Arkansas is on pace for its best SEC finish. In fact, the Diamond Hogs never have won an outright conference title.

They’re still not, in the polls’ eyes, the best team in the SEC, though. This is where the Razorbacks were ranked in 5 of the national polls on Monday:

  • College Baseball Writers — 13th
  • D1Baseball.com — 14th
  • Baseball America — 16th
  • USA Today/Coaches — 14th
  • Collegiate Baseball — ninth

The only poll in which Arkansas is the highest-ranked team in the SEC is by Collegiate Baseball. LSU is ranked higher. Florida is ranked higher. Kentucky is ranked higher. Auburn is ranked higher. In almost every other poll, that’s the case.

That doesn’t mean, necessarily, Arkansas is worse than those 4 teams. The SEC is jam-packed rankings-wise from spots 9 to 16 or so. A big week for the Razorbacks could vault them into the top 10, though.

And that isn’t unusual. Van Horn teams have been a staple among college baseball’s elite for a long time. In case you’re one of the few who haven’t been following Arkansas baseball, Van Horn is one of the country’s top 10 coaches. The Razorbacks have gone to the NCAA Tournament every year he’s been the head man, save last season. He’s taken them to 4 College World Series, including 1 just 2 seasons ago.

But his teams never have been the favorite. Not among the masses, not in the SEC.

Arkansas finished fifth, seventh, third, sixth, fifth, fourth and seventh in years previous to last. How many of those teams went to the College World Series? Three.

I don’t want to overstate here, but that’s incredible.

Respect or not, Van Horn’s team this season is playing, record-wise, even better than those. Time will tell if these Hogs are better. But with 5 games this week — 2 against Memphis (barely relevant, only for glorified practice) and 3 at Auburn — a winning weekend and this thing could turn into something special.

Iso Joe

Robert Horry, Imma let you finish, but Joe Johnson is  the realest clutch player in modern NBA history.

OK, Horry is still the champ (literally), but Johnson has made a career for himself in late moments. After making the game-winner in the final seconds of Utah’s Game 1 win against the Clippers last weekend, Johnson now has 8 career buzzer-beaters that won his team the game. No other current player in the league has more than 4.

This is every one of them:

The best hitter in the SEC

For this last week, anyway.

Arkansas junior outfielder Luke Bonfield took home SEC Player of the Week honors, it was announced Monday. Bonfield helped the Razorbacks to a 4-0 week, going 8 for 20 with a double, triple, a home run, 11 RBI and 5 runs scored. It’s the first weekly honor any Diamond Hogs player has garnered from the SEC this season.

To go or not go? That is the question

Nothing new on the Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford front, technically.

The Arkansas guards have declared for the NBA draft but said, through the university, they will not sign with an agent. That makes them eligible to return to Arkansas next season if they remove their names by May 24.

kentucky-arkansas-malik monk-daryl macon
Will Daryl Macon (left) join fellow Arkansas native Malik Monk (right) in the NBA? (Chet White/Kentucky Athletics)

Since announcing on Friday, both have been inundated on social media from anxious fans. Most sane. Some congratulatory. Some not so much. Of either.

But the truth is whatever decision Macon or Barford makes, that will be the best decision.

ICYMI

  • Things were rough for T.J. Hammonds during Arkansas’ first spring football scrimmage just more than a week ago. The sophomore is making the move from running back to wide receiver and dropped a few passes. A week later, though, he’s looking more like the threat we saw a glimpse of last season.
  • Keon Hatcher isn’t the highest rated among ex-Arkansas football players eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. Hatcher is moving up the boards of several teams, though, including Detroit.

Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas … wait, Texas!?!?!

Arkansas lottery officials announced the winner Monday of a $177 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Eliberto Cantu made the purchase in March at a convenience store in Stuttgart. The Lubbock, Texas, man chose to take a $73 million lump-sum payment.

Yep. A Texan came to Arkansas and won the lottery. Sacrilege to some of the folks who still think of Texas as those nasty ol’ Longhorns.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has more details. If you can bear to read them.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.