Advertisement

Everything Eric Musselman said after Arkansas beat Mizzou

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman was a happy man Wednesday night.

His Razorbacks basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided falling below .500 for the first time in Musselman’s five seasons at the helm by beating Missouri, 91-84, in Columbia.

At times, Arkansas looked like the team it expected to be when the season began. They started the year ranked in the Top 25, but a mediocre December carried into a brutal January and Razorbacks have found themselves well outside the NCAA Tournament picture.

Such results through the month largely left Musselman with more questions than answers. On Wednesday, the head Hog went so far as to say his team looked like the teams from the previous three years, the teams that made three straight Sweet Sixteens.

Arkansas isn’t close, overall, to making it four straight years of such. But with more games like the one against Missouri, the Razorbacks are not exactly dead yet.

The trick is continuing.

Check out more of what Musselman had to say below.

Offense inside

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

More than a point of emphasis. It was a mandate to score in what we call zone one. If you settled for 3s tonight you were probably going to come out and go not go back in. … This Razorbacks basketball team for the last 80 minutes of play, has played good basketball. … Tonight, to go on the road and lead for 37 minutes is really, really hard to do. Really proud of us offensively scoring 47 and 44 in the two halves. … Defensive activity is where it needs to be with 10 steals. This group tonight played like teams of the past. Creating steals. Jumping in passing lanes. Sharing the basketball. Super proud of the 40-minute effort tonight

Makhi Mitchell's best game of the season

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I think he’s practiced really hard. I think he’s been really focused. He’s had great practices. He’s had really good pre-practices. I think the last two games he’s had a different, renewed focus. When he plays like that, he’s as good as any center in the country the way he’s played the last two games.

Being in control throughout

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I thought we played great basketball. I thought there was a renewed sense of urgency, a focus, a disposition pre-game. It was a team that was ready to play. I’m proud of their toughness tonight. Proud of the way we defended the first half. … The team had fun tonight. You could see it. They competed. Again, when’s the last time we had 10 steals in a game this year? Two really good steps in the right direction. The last 80 minutes I thought we’ve improved as much as we have this year.

Point guard play

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Point guard play was phenomenal. I give it an A-plus. Keyon, the last two days of practice, he was focused. He got the nod tonight getting 32 minutes. His free throws were important, going 6 for 6. The ball flows well when he’s out there. … I thought our offense was really good. Ninety-one points on the road is a large number and I thought we played consistently offensively both halves.

Graham and Lawson, too

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I think our three-headed bigs have been unbelievable. Chandler and Jalen and Ki have been oustandings. Not good, but outstanding. Jalen is looking at the rim and being super, super aggressive. He had four steals, four assists. Chandler continues to do the little things that might not show up in the box score. And Ki, when he plays like that, he’s as good as anybody in the country.

Rebounding quality

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I think that it was a huge point of emphasis. We’ve done a lot of rebounding drills leading up to the Kentucky game and we continued on. Certainly feel that’s an important aspect to us winning basketball games. If we don’t rebound in this league, we’re going to really, really struggle. Proud of our defensive rebounding. At times we let some balls slip through our hands, but a much improved job on the glass when you look one through five.

Blocker and Menifield together

Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A lot matchups and stuff, it has to do with what the other team has out there. When they play East and Honor together, it allowed us from a matchup standpoint to play two guards together. There are nights when we’re going against 6-6 off-guards. … I thought they both were extremely unselfish. I thought defensively they were really good. Created a little bit more defensive havoc for the opposition. We were able to extend our defense a little bit more which probably goes in line with those 10 team steals.

Controlled paint on defense, too

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I think our quickness with Keyon and Layden it helped us keep the ball in front. It helped us not get into rotations. That definitely helped and our blocked shots continue to be really, really solid. That’s been a big strength of ours all year. If our perimeter guys can keep the ball in front, tonight, it was about stopping the dribble-drive and schematically on me, we were willing to live with some 3s.

Tramon Mark's game

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I think going back to the Kentucky game, he was still fatigued. I think he tried to give it his all. I don’t think he was completely healthy, but he knew we were a team down in numbers, so he gave it his best shot. … In practice and shootaround, he looked like himself. He looked like he had fresh legs, as well. From an energy standpoint, we saw a different player tonight.

Big runs in first half helped

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

I have been concerned with the way we’ve gone into halftime. We came into a very scripted group that we were going to have out there at the end of the half. Maybe one guy out of the five was not scripted. We wanted ball security to end the half. We wanted high-level shot selection. I thought tonight was

First road SEC win

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It’s really hard to win on the road. I know with the fan bases, this is probably a rivalry. I thought they had a great crowd. Any time you can win on the road, especially when you’re struggling to get a win, it’s really hard mentally and spiritually to pick yourself and go on the road and play against a team you know a team is desperate to win as well. Super proud from a mental standpoint. … We were able to (Kentucky) on the back-burner and get ready for today’s game. Super hard to do, but our guys did a great job with it.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire