De ja LSU? Apparently so, because for the second consecutive game Arkansas was noticably inept and overmatched against an SEC opponent as the Alabama Crimson Tide ended nearly 7 years of futility against the Razorbacks with a dominant 90-59 win Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Hogs (10-4, 2-4 SEC, NCAA NET No. 28 entering Saturday) have now lost two consecutive games by a combined margin of 47 points, which includes Wednesday’s 16-point defeat at LSU in a game Arkansas trailed by 31 points in the first half. The Hogs, who trailed by as many as 36 points against the Tide, have also lost 4 of their last 5 outings with three of those defeats by double digits and an average losing margin of 20.0 points.
Arkansas fell to 1-3 in road contests and 0-4 in NCAA NET Quad-1 win opportunities. Second-year head coach Eric Musselman dropped to 10-15 in SEC games and now has two multiple-game losing streaks in 2020-21 (and a total of four multiple-game losing streaks in his 25 league outings as Head Hog).
The Tide (11-3, 6-0 SEC, NCAA NET No. 22 entering Saturday) remained perfect in league play while snapping a 6-game losing streak (including 0-3 in Tuscaloosa) against Arkansas that dated back to March 8, 2014, when ‘Bama had last beaten Arkansas in an 83-58 home win.
“Obviously, we’ve got to get a lot better, we’ve got a lot of things to work on,” Musselman said in his postgame press conference. “Clearly, we have not been good the last two games. We’ve got to indentify our problems and work on them.”
For the second straight game featuring two of the SEC’s top scoring teams, the Hogs’ defensively allowed their opponent to exceed their season scoring average while failing to come close to their own season scoring average.
Alabama dominated three-point shooting — 15-of-36 (41.7%) for the Tide compared to 4-of-17 (23.5%) for the Hogs. ‘Bama also won the glass (43-36), turnovers (18-14), fast-break points (20-8), and bench points (38-13). Overall, the Tide shot 31-of-64 from the field (48.4%) and 13-of-17 from the free throw line (76.5%). Arkansas was 21-of-63 overall from the field (33.3%) and 13-of-18 from the foul line (72.2%).
Tide senior guard John Petty, Jr., led his team with 17 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from 3 as he set the school record for career made three-pointers. Sophomore guard Jaden Shackelford had 16 points, including 4-of-7 from 3, while senior small forward / wing Herbert Jones had 13 points and 4 rebounds.
Arkansas freshman guard Moses Moody scored a career-high 28 points (10-of-25 field goals, including 3-of-7 from 3, and 5-of-5 free throws) to go with 9 rebounds and 1 assist in 34 minutes. Senior combo guard Jalen Tate ahd 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steak, and 6 turnovers in 29 minutes.
“A lot of shot weren’t falling for the team,” Moody said. “A lot of the scoring was coming from me, I made a lot of shots. It was just wht my team needed me to do at the time. I’ve said in the past I feel like at your lowest point you’re open to the greatest changes … If you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day. We’re in a lot of adversity right now, so we’ve got to get through that. We’re going to learn from that and we’re going to build on it.”
Both teams came into Saturday’s game with players either out or returning to action following recent injuries. The Hogs saw the return of senior 6-7 combo forward Justin Smith (11.6 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game), who had missed the previous four games and finished with 5 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in 18 minutes. Freshman 6-0 reserve guard KK Robinson (2.6 points and 1.0 assist) missed his third consecutive game as he is out for the remainder of the season following foot surgery. The Tide had won its previous three games without Villanova-transfer guard Jahvon Quinerly (13.0 points and a team-best 3.4 assists), who returned from a concussion to play against the Hogs as he finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 21 minutes off the bench. Jones (12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds) also played despite a finger injury that had him listed as questionable coming into Saturday, and senior 6-10 big man Jordan Bruner (7.8 points and 5.3 rebounds) was out against the Hogs with a meniscus injury that will sideline him 4-6 weeks.
The Tide used runs of 14-0 and 17-5 in the first half in building a comfortable 23-point lead at the break, 42-19, in all but sealing the outcome in similar fashion to what LSU did on Wednesday in building a 20-point halftime lead en route to cruising to a 92-76 victory. The Tide led by as many as 36 points, 77-41, midway through the second half.
Next up for Arkansas is a home game against Auburn on Wednesday in a rematch of the league-opener for both teams that was played on Dec. 30 in Auburn, Ala. — a 97-85 Razorbacks road victory.
Against ‘Bama on Saturday, Musselman went with his fourth different starting lineup since the beginning of league play as freshman big man Jaylin Williams (second start) joined Smith, Moody, Tate, and Desi Sills.
Bama dominated the first half, especially from 3 where the Tide’s high-volume launchers from distance went 7-of-21 (33.3%) compared to the Hogs’ anemic 1-of-7 effort (14.3%). ‘Bama also won first-half turnovers (plus-6 at 12-2), points-off-turnovers (plus 8 at 10-2), rebounds (plus-7 at 23-16), second-chance-points (plus-8 at 10-2), points-in-the-paint (plus-6 at 14-8), and bench points (11-0).
Moody led Arkansas with 14 points and 7 rebounds in the first 20 minutes, and he was the only Hogs with a field goal in the first 15 minutes of the game.