Arkansas basketball got off to another slow start on Friday night, only this time they couldn’t overcome. UNC-Greensboro jumped out to a 38-24 lead going in to halftime and the Hogs never got closer than four the rest of the game.
It was the first loss of the season for Eric Musselman’s squad, but there’s a chance they could be much better for it. They likely won’t struggle to shoot as bad again this year, and hopefully learned their lesson with starting slow against an inferior opponents.
Now, Arkansas embarks on an important stretch of their non-conference schedule after having been humbled at home by a team who looked like they just flat-out wanted it more. Musselman will have five days to correct some of his team’s glaring issues before they see another step up in competition.
Let’s take a closer look at some of things that plagued this Arkansas team and allowed UNC-Greensboro to walk out of Bud Walton victorious on Friday night.
One of the biggest positives of this year’s Arkansas team from last year’s was shooting. Unfortunately, the Hogs’ shooting on Friday night was eerily similar to the abysmal performances fans saw last season.
It was particularly bad in the first half, where Arkansas only shot 10-27 from the field (37.0%) and an even worse 1-10 from three. A lot of that stemmed from poor shot selection, settling for contest mid-range jumpers and not attack the rim. That changed in the second half, as Arkansas knocked down half of their shots – going 14-28 from the field.
That improvement didn’t translate to distance though, as the Hogs were, once again, sitting at 1-10 from deep until a pair of late threes from El Ellis and Trevon Brazile. They finished 4-23 (17.4%) on the night from deep.
Again, a lot of Arkansas’ struggles were because of taking bad shots. Luckily that’s something that can eventually be fixed.
Along with poor shooting, turnovers were the big reason Arkansas trailed 38-24 at halftime. Once again, the Hogs started out with no energy or effort and looked as if they were going through the motions.
Arkansas turned it over 12 times in the first half, leading to 16 UNC-Greensboro points. Seven of those 16 turnovers were steals, and Spartan senior Keyshaun Langley was credited with four of them.
The silver lining is that Arkansas only had one turnover in the entire second half. However, it leaves you wondering what it would’ve looked like had they limited some of those mistakes earlier on in the game. If Arkansas has any chance to win against Stanford, Memphis or Michigan and Duke, they have to take care of the basketball much better.
Defense and rebounding
As bad as things looked at the offensive end of the floor, they looked just as bad on the defensive end. UNC-Greensboro knocked down 48.1% of their shots, including a respectable 9 of 24 (37.5%) shooting from three.
For the better half of the first half, Arkansas looked lost, had too many breakdowns and late rotations, which led to easy looks inside on from the perimeter. Most of this can be contributed to the team’s lack of energy and effort, as things did improve slightly in the second half. However, there’s still plenty to be concerned about as we move forward.
One of those concerns is rebounding. For the third time this season, Arkansas was out-rebounded – this time 32-30. Now, at first glance it may not seem that bad, but UNC-Greensboro tallest player to get any meaningful run on Friday night was 6-foot-9. On Monday, Old Dominion’s tallest player was 6-foot-7. Both teams bested the Hogs on the glass.
There should be no reason that Arkansas is getting out-rebounded by teams with such a height disadvantage. It’s starting to look as if rebounding will be persistent issue with this Razorback team as the season progresses, and it could cost them some crucial wins.s