FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – OK, you can be upset now.
It’s still early in Arkansas’ SEC basketball season, but two games below .500 in league play four games into the season is troubling enough. Stack to that, Arkansas just lost Tuesday night at Bud Waltona Arena to a team that has no shot at the NCAA Tournament and it’s fair to officially be dismayed.
Mississippi State was absolutely tremendous from beyond the arc Tuesday, making 12 3-pointers in an 84-78 win over the Razorbacks. Quinndary Weatherspoon, who is probably the SEC’s best player not at Kentucky, dropped 25 points on 8 of 11 shooting as Arkansas had no one come close to slowing him.
Arkansas trailed by a few buckets for most of the second half. They were down six at halftime and never climbed within that margin in the final few minutes. Mississippi State simply did enough.
The whole game felt like Arkansas was a step slow. Everywhere. Mississippi State had made seven 3s by halftime, carrying a six-point lead into the locker room. Anton Beard and Moses Kingsley, at that time, were the only Arkansas players who had more than a single field goal. Things weren’t completely awry. They were just off.
And they never came around. Arkansas might have gotten away with so many 3s had it been able to rebound well. Or even mediocre. Instead, the Bulldogs outrebounded Arkansas, 41-29, including grabbing 15 offensive boards. All the while the only Arkansas player offensively potent in the final 20 minutes was Dusty Hannahs, who appeared ignited by a little dust-up in the tunnel when both teams went to their locker rooms at the break.
Hannahs finished with 17 points, 15 of which came in the second half. Problem was little else was around to join him other than Kingsley, who had 10 in the second half. The two had more than half of Arkansas’ 44 in the second half together. Meanwhile, Weatherspoon kept chucking and hitting. He had 11 of his final tally in the second half, including three of his 3-pointers.
Arkansas gets last-place Missouri on Saturday, badly needing a win to keep things salvageable. If that games turns out to be a loss, this thing will be awfully close to “burn it down” territory.
Less a turning point than a “reason Arkansas lost:”
One of the Razorbacks’ biggest hauntings from the last couple years has been an inability to defend the 3-pointer with any success. Mississippi State buried 12 at a 46 percent clip Tuesday.
Stat line of the game
See above. Or take Weatherspoon’s line.
8 of 11 FG
6 of 7 3-pointers
3 of 4 FT
The Tigers are tied with Texas A&M for last in the SEC. Arkansas cannot afford to lose Saturday. At all.