Everything Eric Musselman said after Arkansas’ loss to Texas A&M at SEC Tournament
Eric Musselman had seen Friday’s game before. This season was filled with them.
Arkansas squandered a 13-point second-half lead to Texas A&M at the SEC Tournament and the Hogs were knocked out, 67-61.
Texas A&M had rallied from a nine-point deficit in the teams’ meeting back on February 15 to win by six. The 15-point comeback was the Aggies’ second largest in the last 15 seasons.
More telling? Arkansas lost three games during the season in which it led by double-digits.
The Razorbacks are still expected to be in the NCAA Tournament field when it’s announced Sunday, though there is a measure of nervousness for that day, too.
Musselman knows completely.
Check out everything the Hogs head man had to say after the game. Note: Musselman’s remarks are paraphrased.
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies forward Henry Coleman III (15) dunks the ball over Arkansas Razorbacks guard Jordan Walsh (13) during the second half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Obviously, we played a very good first half and poor second half. Give Texas A&M credit for their second-half play. The biggest theme heading into the game was rebounding the basketball. Obviously we didn’t rebound the ball. SEcond half, the 7-0 foul count took away our aggressiveness defensively. Give Texas A&M total credit for how hard they played and changing the complexion.
What's the message to a young team heading to NCAA Tournament
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Anthony Black (0) dribbles the ball up court against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
I haven’t thought about that yet. I do know that it’s the first time since 2008, 18 years since Arkansas has made three straight NCAA Tournaments. But we are a young team. Every game has its own theme and style to what happens. So does every team each year. Historically we’ve been really good in the second half. This season we have not been very good in the second half of games. We’ll dissect this game tonight and tomorrow. The players will be off tomorrow. We’ll wait and see who we play and where we play. At that point we’ll start in with preparation scheme-wise and also mentally some of the things we have to do to get ready to play and win and try to advance in maybe the greatest sporting event that there is in the NCAA Tournament.
Tale of two halves
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Nick Smith Jr. (3) shoots against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Nick, 1 for 10 is, that’s nine of our missed second-half shots. It wasn’t just Nick. Across the board we really struggled to put the ball in the basket in the second half. It’s not the first time it’s happened in the second half. We’re young. Halftime speech has been the same for the last eight years. Adjustments have been the same. We’re a young team and winning and closing games is not easy for teams. Tonight was an example of that again for us.
A&M leads nation in free throws
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Texas A&M Aggies guard Wade Taylor IV (4) drives past Arkansas Razorbacks guard Davonte Davis (right) during the second half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
We didn’t have a lot of prep time, obviously, because by the time we got back last night, having played yesterday, it does have an effect on you for sure. Playing with great discipline and not reaching and trying to go vertical was the game plan. I thought we did a pretty good job in both halves. The first half was physical on both sides of the floor. Texas A&M beat us, but if you get down 7-0 in the foul count at any level it affects your aggressivness defensively, especially (against) a team that shoots foul shots like Texas A&M. So certainly that affected, because we did not want to put them on the foul line. That did have an effect on us. We did a phenomenal job blocking 11 shots. But again, they played a great second half, led by Taylor. I thought his second half was phenomenal. We had some guys not play great second halves and there goes the outcome.
Feeling going forward to NCAAs
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Makhi Mitchell (15) blocks the shot of Texas A&M Aggies guard Tyrece Radford (23) during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
This league is really hard, really competitive, great talent. A lot of NBA players play in this league. Hopefully we’ve learned throughout. Even tonight. I hope the six freshmen, the new guys, I hope we learned something tonight that we can discuss and try to get better at. This stings. A&M is a really good team. They were the second seed and for much of the game we had a lead. I think we led 75 out of the 80 minutes we played them in the two other games. We’ve proven we can play with anybody. As far as the tournament, certainly, again, first time in 18 years a program like Arkansas has been to three straight NCAAs. But as a competitor, you have to let this game sink in before you turn the page. Not really going to start thinking about the tournament until we know who we play and where we play.
Council struggled offensively
Mar 10, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Ricky Council IV (1) dribbles against the Texas A&M Aggies during the first half at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Certainly the two fouls he had in the first half. Normally I don’t play a player when he has two fouls. I did put him back to help him get going a little bit. We need Ricky to score. Tonight, again, just the foul trouble I thought affected his aggressiveness.