Razorbacks face steep uphill climb as Texas A&M comes to Bud Walton

Head Coach Eric Musselman’s basketball teams have started historically slow in Southeastern Conference play since he arrived five years ago, but the Razorbacks have always seemed to surge back for a post-season run in the NCAA Tournament.

After an 0-3 start in the conference this season – all double-digits losses – Arkansas faces another uphill battle. But even with an influx of upperclassman transfers on this season’s roster, that hill may finally be too steep.

ESPN has given Arkansas (9-7, 0-3 SEC) just a 34 percent chance of defeating Texas A&M in Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday,

These Razorbacks seem to lack the defense and grit that past squads have possessed. The Hogs started 1-5 in the SEC a season ago and still ended up in the Sweet 16. But with three historically bad losses over the past 10 days, this year’s hopes of another dance in March may quickly be fading away.

“This group does not have the characteristics of our past four years,” Musselman said after the Florida loss on Saturday. “I mean, you can see that. We have a lot of holes in a lot of different areas. So, our job as a staff will be to continue to do what we can, try to provide teaching points, to try to continue to give scouting reports that are effective. That’s what we’re supposed to do, is continue to try to get guys better and get the collective whole better.”

Arkansas lost its last home game on Jan. 6 to Auburn, 83-51, in what was the worst defeat of the Razorbacks in the 31-year history of Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs then lost consecutive road games, at Georgia and Florida, completing the worst three-game skid in Hog history. Those three losses were by a combined 64 points.

Texas A&M (10-6, 1-2 SEC) has had an up-and-down season, but is soaring after defeating No. 6 Kentucky, 97-92 in overtime on Saturday.

The Aggies are led by junior guard Wade Taylor IV, who is averaging 18.2 points, 4.1 assists and 2.4 steals. He exploded for 31 points, six rebounds and five assists in the win over Kentucky.

“They’re so well-coached,” Musselman said. “(Head coach) Buzz Williams does a phenomenal job with his team on both sides of the ball. They’ll mix up defensive coverage. It’ll be important for our ball handlers in the pick-and-roll to be able to identify their soft traps.”

The Razorbacks will hope to continue getting the warrior-like effort from junior guard Tramon Mark, the Houston transfer who is averaging 16.7 points a game.

Arkansas has played more games against Texas A&M than any other school in program history, sporting an overall 106-61 advantage over the Aggies. The series dates back to the Razorbacks’ first season in 1923-24, when the Aggies defeated them twice, on consecutive days, in College Station.

Since Texas A&M joined the SEC for the 2012-13 season, Arkansas owns a slight 11-10 advantage. The Razorbacks are 9-1 against the Aggies in Bud Walton, during that time, while the Aggies are 7-2 on their homecourt.

Also of note heading into Tuesday’s game, senior Davonte Davis is just eight rebounds and nine assists shy of joining Todd Day as the only Razorbacks to post at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire