We can sit here and pretend Arkansas’ 19 dismantling of Missouri on Saturday afternoon was some kind of signal change, a flare in the darkness of a so-far disappointing SEC season. But, honestly, it only would have mattered for the Razorbacks had they lost.
Really, Missouri is maybe the worst team in all of power-conference college basketball. The Tigers are easily the worst in the SEC. Arkansas’ margin of victory, 92-73, could have been 39 and things wouldn’t have altered much. By final buzzer, the only thing that was relevant is Arkansas (13-4, 2-3) scored a victory in a game it absolutely, positively could not afford to lose.
Missouri, which has now lost eight straight games and last beat Miami (Ohio) on December 6,
was inferior Saturday the whole day. Even in bouts of sleepiness for the Razorbacks – one moment at the end of the first half and another midway through the second – the 14-point lead they took into halftime only ever dropped to 12. Arkansas was simply better all the way around.
But those moments of inactivity or laziness or bad play – whatever they are – were common enough to be noticed. One time, after building its lead to more than 20 points with less than 10 minutes to play, the Razorbacks piddled around and let Missouri back within 13. Not close enough to be concerned about the result, but narrow enough to warrant acknowledgment.
That said, Missouri (5-11, 0-4), in its previous three losses – to LSU, Georgia and Auburn – was only getting beat by an average of seven points a game and the max was 11. Arkansas technically beat the Tigers worse than anyone else so far in the league.
Arkansas had four players in double figures scoring, led by Daryl Macon’s 17. Plus, a game in which Manny Watkins made a jump shot is probably a good game. The senior made his first career 3-pointer, actually, on his way to eight points. Missouri was led by Jordan Barnett’s 14.
Mike Anderson, who coached at Missouri from 2006-2011, is now 6-3 against the Tigers. He’s also won four consecutive of those.
The win kept Arkansas among the “haves” of the SEC, still within feasibility of an NCAA Tournament berth. Even with a sub-.500 record five games into SEC play, ESPN’s bracketologist still had the Razorbacks as “in” the Dance. Wins still must come and every single team on the schedule from this point will tougher than Missouri at Bud Walton Arena was.
An underperforming-but-scary Texas A&M comes next on Tuesday night in College Station.
Stat of the game
Maybe the most troubling stat for Arkansas was rebounding. It’s arguably what got them beat (and Quinndary Weatherspoon) against Mississippi State and the difficulties reared their head again Saturday.
That’s Missouri on the left. Arkansas did a good job of keeping Missouri from soring on those offensive rebounds but 14 is far too many to give up against a small, less talented team.
I mean, opening tip, probably? Missouri was outclassed from the word go.
at Texas A&M
The Aggies are second-to-last in the SEC (ahead of only Missouri), but were picked to finish near the top five. The game won’t be easy for Arkansas and don’t be shocked if the Aggies are actually picked to win.