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Everything Musselman said after Arkansas demolished by Tennessee.

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman took questions for nine minutes Wednesday following his team’s loss to Tennessee.

His team’s school-record 29-point loss to Tennessee.

Musselman did his best to hold back extraordinary frustration. Tennessee and Arkansas have been playing since 1934, albeit not every season since, and the Volunteers had never beaten the Hogs that badly. What makes it more frustrating for Musselman is that just over one month ago, Arkansas lost by a Bud Walton Arena-record 32 points to Auburn.

Things simply have not gotten better for the Razorbacks since they began their nosedive in December. Musselman has had to live with six weeks worth of the same questions from fans and media. He’s said multiple times he isn’t sure how to get through to his players at this point.

And they sure aren’t hearing it. Arkansas now sits at 3-8 in SEC play. If the Hogs don’t win another league game this year, 2023-24 will go down as the third worst SEC season ever.

Here’s what Musselman had to say Wednesday.

Poor play and poor scheduling

Feb 14, 2024; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman reacts during the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2024; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman reacts during the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bud Walton Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

First and second half we gave up 46 points. Defensively not much different. Not good either half. Tennessee more physical than us, created more turnovers. Points off turnovers was a killer. We’ve talked about our inability at times to take care of the basketball. Live-ball turnovers was a huge, huge problem tonight. Tennessee has a better competitive spirit. That was plain to see. Now the schedule hasn’t done us any favors. We’re the last SEC game on a Wednesday night. Mississippi State has off and we go there. It’s the second time it’s happened to us the last couple weeks. No excuse. It’s the schedule we have. Not easy. Knowing why wouldn’t play on a Tuesday, not sure. Why we played the last game on Wednesday but an early game on Saturday. A very quick turnaround for our team. We’ve got to draw free throws attempted. Tennessee is a very physical team. Tennessee opponents, I think, in SEC play average over 22 free-throws attempted. Tonight we got 15. We had a goal to try to get to 30. We thought that was a realistic goal. We got half of those. Either we have to do a better job of playing through contact or initiating contact because that was a big part of the game plan and we were unable to get free throws attempted.

Jonas Aidoo's game

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

He’s phenomenal. He keeps getting better. What you want to see out of players is player improvement and you can tell he gets in the gym. His mid-range shot, so much improved. He can make that shot. He’s big. He physical. He ducks in. I think he’s one of the most improved players that our league has. He’s a big who rebounds the ball, plays really, really hard. I thought that really Aidoo and Gainey were the two differences in the game. … Between Zeigler, Vescovi and Dalton Knecht, if you would have told me they would only make two 3s and we would lose by this much, I would have said there was no possible way.

Paint domination by Tennessee

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I thought they got whatever they wanted in the paint tonight. I thought hard post-ups and physical post-ups and they established post position. When you catch the ball that deep, it’s pretty hard to stop somebody.

Settle for too many 3s?

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

First half we were 6 of 13, so I thought we did a good job. Second half, 2 of 10, maybe if we would have gone 2 for 6. When you’re down by that much, you’re going to shoot 3s. I don’t think that was. But, yeah, I would have liked to take four less 3s maybe.

Couldn't turn Tennessee turnovers into points

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I think we need to do a better job in a lot of areas. Certainly if you have 12 steals, that’s a pretty good number. More steals than they had. We need to convert those for sure.

Vols shot lights out

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

I think they’re ranked eighth in the country. They can do that to a lot of people. They have done that to a lot of people. We didn’t play hard enough in the second half defensively, plain and simple. In the first half, I thought we worked, they’ve just got really good players. It was a six-point game at halftime.

Tennessee is Final Four good

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

On a night like tonight, I think they’re as good as anybody in the country. This league is loaded. That team is really well coached. They’re competitive spirit is good as any team that we’ve played. They were coming off a loss. We tried to tell our guys what they would be like when you’re ranked eighth in the country and coming off a loss. They’re really good. I don’t know what to tell you. They just beat us by 29 points. They’re a pretty damn good basketball team.

3-point defense good and steals were, too

Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It’s like you plug this hole and then this one (over here) goes…yeah, I mean, that’s what we’re doing. That’s what I’m doing. Yes, we recognized 3-point defense was killing us. So we hunker down, we work on it. That’s a team that – Dalton Knecht made six or seven 3s last game alone. We did a pretty good job on a guy averaging 25 points or 26 points a game. We didn’t do a good job on Gainey. When you play Tennessee and they score 92 points and they only make five 3s. That’s a team that’s experienced, old. Twelve steals? I don’t know. I’m sure they probably don’t have 12 steals very often. Those are two areas we really focused on and slip in another area. That’s where we’re at.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire