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Few of Arkansas coach Eric Musselman’s post-game press conferences have seen him in a joyous mood. After Saturday afternoon’s loss to Texas A&M, that standard continued.
His demeanor during the pressers is unusual this season. Last year, Arkansas was dynamite, making the Elite Eight, so joy was common. As online presence, Musselman is an icon among his profession, for his upbeat nature.
But Arkansas basketball has stumbled in December and January, losing five of its last six games and three straight to open SEC play. The last time a Razorbacks team started the conference season at 0-3, they finished 2-14. That was in 2008-09.
“I know all the fans, the athletic department, we’re all disappointed with our record right now,” Musselman said after the game. “But having said this, you are what your record is and you’ve got to continue to work and continue to get better in the areas we’re deficient at.”
The chief concern is turnovers. Arkansas committed 18 against Texas A&M and the Aggies countered with 28 points from them. Against Vanderbilt, at Bud Walton Arena last week, Arkansas had 14 turnovers and the Commodores had 20 points in retaliation.
Musselman wants nine or fewer giveaways a night.
“It’s really frustrating,” he said. “For seven years, we’ve written on the board nine turnovers or less, take care of the ball, get a shot on goal.”
The reality is, though no one wants to hear it with the team 0-3, Arkansas isn’t that far away from being 2-1 and in the thick of the conference. They aren’t the worst team in the SEC despite sitting in the cellar.
Unfortunately, they’re also running out of time. Arkansas has yet to play any of the top five teams in the conference and eight of the team’s last nine games in the season will come against squads currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament.
In other words, it’s time for the Razorbacks to dig themselves out of the hole.