South Carolina isn’t a team to which Arkansas should lose

South Carolina is the sort of opponent Arkansas needs to dominate to get back into the thick of the NCAA Tournament conversation.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01fc3h383th881vsf1 player_id=none image=https://razorbackswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

In some circles, Arkansas’ game against South Carolina on Tuesday night would be termed a swing game. It isn’t a must-win, but results for the rest of the season could hinge on the outcome, especially for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas has won two straight games after an 0-3 start in SEC play, bringing itself back into the conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Saturday’s victory at LSU, which had only lost one game to that point, provided the Hogs with a top-quadrant win, bolstering not only their record but their resume.

South Carolina would not provide such a boost. But given the quality at the top of the SEC and Arkansas’ playing of those teams late in the season, the Razorbacks would be wise to rack up as many should-be wins as possible before that time comes.

The Gamecocks are just 1-3 in SEC play and lost to Florida over the weekend. They do own a win over Vanderbilt, however, a team that beat Arkansas a couple weeks ago inside Bud Walton Arena. They’re led by 6-foot-4 guard Erik Stevenson who averages 11.3 points per game.

Arkansas forward Trey Wade, a player who has established himself as a key cog in the Razorbacks rotation the last couple weeks, played with Stevenson two seasons ago at Wichita State. Wade himself has been excellent of late, scoring 17 points in the big win at Missouri and logging 20 quality minutes in the post against LSU.

Arkansas assistant coach Keith Smart is likely to serve as interim head coach for the second straight game as usual head man Eric Musselman continues to recover from shoulder surgery.

Tip from Bud Walton Arena is at 6 p.m.

Beyond the Box: Reborn on the Bayou

If the 2021-22 Razorbacks make another magically run deep into March, we may all look back to this game at Baton Rouge as the turning point.

If the 2021-22 Razorbacks make another magical run deep into March, we may all look back to this game at Baton Rouge as the turning point. It was the type of gritty road win you’d expect from a good team. It’s a unifying event that could signal the turning of a corner for a team that still has time to put it all together. And it was all done with its head coach back in Fayetteville recovering from surgery.

Assistant coach Keith Smart took over game day operations and rose to the moment just like he’s done in the past. No, it wasn’t a clutch jumper in a championship game. But he was cool under pressure after LSU built an 8-point lead with 8:00 to play, and that attitude clearly rubbed off on his team.

As usual, we will take a look here at a few things that jump out from the game that you won’t see in the standard box score.

Guess who’s back! Arkansas beats LSU on the road

Arkansas rallied to knock-off a top-15 LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday.

Just like that, Arkansas is back in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

Jaylin Williams’ three-pointer with 1:12 left broke 58-all tie and Arkansas used a 10-0 run minutes earlier to rally and beat LSU on the road in Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon, 65-58.

LSU went scoreless for almost seven minutes in the back part of the second half as their eight-point lead with 9:01 left evaporated. Williams, who had made only three 3-pointers on the season, was left open at the top of the key when he broke the tie.

He was one of three Arkansas (12-5, 2-3 in SEC) players in double figures, finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for his third straight double-double. The Razorbacks were led by JD Notae’s 19 points and Au’Diese Toney chipped in 12 more.

LSU had a chance to tie in the late seconds, but a bad outlet pass was picked off by Arkansas and Stanley Umude scored on a lay-up the other way to make the Razorbacks’ lead two possessions.

Eric Gaines led LSU (15-2, 3-2) with 14 points. The Tigers shot just 32 percent from the floor in the second half.

The win was Arkansas’ first in Baton Rouge since February 2019. It was also the team’s first quadrant-one win of the season and the team’s second straight after starting SEC play with three straight losses.

How to Watch: Arkansas at LSU

Arkansas basketball heads into play this afternoon without its head coach as Eric Musselman continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Assistant Keith Smart will serve as the interim head coach this afternoon.

Arkansas basketball heads into play this afternoon without its head coach as Eric Musselman continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Assistant Keith Smart will serve as the interim head coach this afternoon. Arkansas is coming off a Wednesday thrashing of Missouri and looks to pick up its second SEC win of the season against a talented, tough LSU squad.

The Hogs (11-4, 1-3) got thrashed themselves in their last visit to Red Stick. The 2020-21 Razorbacks got humbled at LSU last year, losing 92-76 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score suggests. Arkansas turned the tables on the Tigers in their February rematch at Bud Walton before losing again to LSU in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas is 34-29 against LSU since joining the SEC, though the Tigers have won 18 of 29 games played in Baton Rouge during that time.

LSU is coming off a road win at Florida on Wednesday, a game in which they played without star point guard Xavier Pinson. He missed the game after suffering a knee injury against Tennessee last weekend and is also expected to miss today’s game. Razorbacks guard Kamani Johnson, who started on Wednesday against Missouri, is listed as doubtful for the game with an ankle injury.

Tip off from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge is 1:00pm and can be seen on ESPN2.

How to Watch

When: 1:00 p.m.

Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Traditional TV: ESPN2

Online live stream: ESPN.com/watch

For those seeking the radio broadcast of the game, you can find the complete list below. In Northwest Arkansas, KQSM 92.1 FM will be the broadcaster this season. In central Arkansas you can find the game on KABZ 103.7 FM.

Arkansas radio affiliates

Batesville, KWOZ-FM, 103.3

Camden, KCXY-FM, 95.3

Crossett, KAGH-FM, 104.9

Crossett, KAGH-AM, 800

DeQueen, KDQN-FM, 92.1

DeWitt, KDEW-FM, 97.3

El Dorado, KMRX-FM, 96.1

Fayetteville, KQSM-FM, 92.1

Forrest City, KBFC-FM, 93.5

Fort Smith, KERX-FM, 95.3

Glenwood, KHGZ-FM, 98.9

Glenwood, KHGZ-AM, 670

Hot Springs, KTTG-FM, 96.3

Jonesboro, KEGI-FM, 100.5

Little Rock, KABZ-FM, 103.7

Magnolia, KZHE-FM, 100.5

Marshall, KBCN-FM, 104.3

Mena, KTTG-FM, 96.3

Mena, KENA-FM, 104.1

Monticello, KGPQ-FM, 99.9

Morrilton, KCON-FM, 99.3

Mountain Home, KOMT-FM, 93.5

Ozark, KDYN-FM, 96.7

Ozark, KDYN-AM, 1540

Searcy, KRZS-FM, 99.1

Texarkana, KKTK-AM, 1400

Wynne, KWYN-FM, 92.5

Follow Razorbacks Wire on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest University of Arkansas sports news on your timeline.

Arkansas-LSU could be the Hogs best rivalry

The rivalry between Arkansas and LSU has heated up in the last couple months.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01fc3h383th881vsf1 player_id=none image=https://razorbackswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

For the first 20 or so years of Arkansas’ stay in the SEC, most Razorbacks fans considered LSU the school’s No. 1 rival.

With the transfer of two Arkansas starting players to the Tigers just this week, that sport should see even more heat returned in the Battle for the Golden Boot.

But it’s on the basketball court where Arkansas will its first chance to re-ignite the rivalry. The Hogs, fresh off their first SEC win of the year against Missouri on Wednesday, travel to Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon for a tip against the more southern Tigers.

The game presents Arkansas a true opportunity to show that that the 44-point win over Mizzou wasn’t all that much of a fluke. LSU is 13-1 and 3-1 in the SEC and ranked No. 12 in the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll. The Razorbacks were No. 10 in the same poll exactly a month ago.

Since that time, however, Arkansas dropped five of six games, sending the team not only tumbling out of the Top 25, but out of projected NCAA Tournaments, too. The Missouri win renewed hope, but a win against a potential top-three seed would get the Razorbacks back into the Big Dance conversation.

Arkansas and LSU have split their last six meetings against each other. Each team has held their own home floor in the last four non-neutral-site games.

The Tigers have won three straight after suffering their only loss against Auburn to open SEC play. On the inside, LSU is led by potential All-SEC forwards Darius Days and Tari Eason. They both average more 14 points and seven rebounds a game. At guard, Missouri transfer Xavier Pinson is scoring 10.9 points a game and averages 4.7 assists.

Tip-off from Bud Walton Arena is at 1 p.m.

[listicle id=5153]

Muss Bus in the Shop: Arkansas Coach to Miss Games

Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman will not be patrolling the sideline this weekend when the Hogs play in Baton Rouge against #12 LSU. According to a press release from the university this morning, Musselman had surgery this morning to repair a torn rotator cuff.

Arkansas men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman will not be patrolling the sideline this weekend when the Hogs play in Baton Rouge against #12 LSU. According to a press release from the university, Musselman had surgery this morning to repair a torn rotator cuff. From the release:

University of Arkansas head men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman had successful surgery today to repair a full tear of the supraspinatus tendon and partial tears to the infraspinatus and subscapularis tendons in his left shoulder. Coach Musselman is expected to miss at least two games, starting with the Razorbacks’ game at LSU this Saturday (Jan. 15).

Assistant coach Keith Smart will take over game day coaching duties for Musselman. Smart previously served as the head coach for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings.

Beyond the Box: Razorbacks Reset

It was over by the first TV timeout. Midway through the first half the Hogs were finishing off a 19-0 run, Mizzou had only scored 5 points, and every Arkansas fan was probably thinking the same thing: “This is exactly what the Muss Bus needed!”

It was over by the first TV timeout. Midway through the first half the Hogs were finishing off a 19-0 run, Mizzou had only scored 5 points, and every Arkansas fan was probably thinking the same thing: “This is exactly what the Muss Bus needed!”

Fourteen Razorbacks logged time on the floor en route to Arkansas’s overwhelming 87-43 victory at Bud Walton Arena. Trey Wade, who scored his season high of 17 points, was the only Hog to play more than 30 minutes. Head Coach Eric Musselman was able to play multiple combinations and continue to evaluate on-court chemistry.

As usual, we will take a look here at a few things that jump out from the game that you won’t see in the standard box score.

Finally! Arkansas snaps three-game skid with over Missouri

Arkansas played its best game of the season as the Razorbacks blasted Missouri at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.

Arkansas led by 15 points at the first media timeout and kept Missouri without a field goal for almost eight straight minutes in the first half en route to snapping its three-game losing streak to start SEC play, beating the Tigers, 87-43, Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena.

Missouri trailed by 21 points less than nine minutes into the game after shooting 1 for its first 11 from the field. Arkansas countered by going 10 for 14 over the same span.

The Razorbacks (11-5, 1-3 SEC) led by 35 points at halftime as Mizzou made only three field goals in the opening 20 minutes. Four Arkansas players finished in double figures, led by JD Notae’s 19. Jaylin Williams had his second straight double-double, as well, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Javon Pickett led Missouri with 12 points and Jarron Coleman added 11.

Arkansas’ win was desperately needed as the Hogs sat in the bottom of the SEC, winless almost a fourth of the way through conference play. They were ranked as high as No. 10 in the nation a month ago, but having lost five of their last six games, Arkansas had fallen not only out of the Top 25, but out of the projected NCAA Tournament bracket.

Eric Musselman’s team gets a chance to make it two straight wins Saturday when they travel to Baton Rouge to play LSU. The Tigers are ranked No. 12 in the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll. 

Arkansas has an 90 percent chance to beat Missouri

Arkansas is a lot better than Missouri and the ESPN and KenPom datasets show it.

The numbers work for Arkansas on Wednesday. The question is whether the Razorbacks will continue to defy predictions.

Hogs faithful are hoping not as Missouri visits Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night. Arkansas sits winless in SEC play after dropping its first three conference contests of the year and five of its last six games overall. Coach Eric Musselman’s team was projected to win all three of its SEC-opening games as recently as mid-December.

When the Tigers visit, the Razorbacks will have a 89.7% chance to exit their home arena with a first win, per ESPN’s matchup predictor. Going further, the site’s Basketball Power Index ranks Arkansas as the No. 49 team in the nation while Missouri is slotted at No. 189.

Not only is the advantage far and wide for the Razorbacks, but the placing inside the top 50 suggests with a return to form, Arkansas would not be far off an NCAA Tournament berth.

The teams are placed similarly in the KenPom.com rankings. Those are largely considered one of the best when it comes to predicting postseason chances. There, the Razorbacks are 54th while Missouri is 149th.

An Arkansas win almost certainly wouldn’t lift the Razorbacks to the top 40, a loss would almost certainly send them careening to a point where even the most optimistic of rallies may not be enough to recover a lost season.

Gut-check time: Hogs ready to host Missouri with future in their hands

Arkansas is facing a must-win game against Missouri at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01fc3h383th881vsf1 player_id=none image=https://razorbackswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

January 12 generally feels like it should be too early to talk about a must-win game in college basketball. But for Arkansas, a loss to Missouri in Fayetteville on Wednesday night would all but sink the Razorbacks’ NCAA Tournament chances.

Granted, that doesn’t account for a miracle. Arkansas could swim through the back-half of its schedule, though seven of the Hogs’ last eight games come against teams currently projected to make the Big Dance. Most of them currently have high (as in, quality) seeds, too.

That makes Wednesday’s 8 p.m. tip against the Tigers supremely important. Arkansas (10-5, 0-3) has lost its first three games in SEC play and five of its last six overall after a 9-0 start had the team ranked in the Top 10 in the nation. Missouri, the team picked 10th in the SEC poll in the preseason, sits at an even .500 (7-7, 1-1) heading to Bud Walton Arena.

One statistic that points in the direction of Arkansas snapping its skid is Missouri’s shooting. The Hogs have struggled all year in defending the 3-point shot as they’re 316th out of 350 Division I teams opponent’s 3-point percentage with teams making 36.6% of their shots from range. The Tigers, though, are even worse at actually shooting that shot, checking at 348th out of those 350 teams. They’re hitting on just 25% of their 3-pointers.

But Missouri is still a team coming off a win against Alabama, the preseason SEC favorites. The Tigers pulled the upset largely by outrebounding Alabama 43-31 and making 21 of their 27 shots from the free-throw line. To that end, Missouri will look toward Kobe Brown, who scored 30 points and grabbed 13 boards against the Crimson Tide.

Arkansas should be mostly healthy after guard Chris Lykes appeared to injure his adductor/groin in the waning minutes of the Texas A&M game last time out. But even still, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman isn’t taking anything for granted, not after the way his team has started conference play.

“Obviously Alabama is one of the best teams in the conference, one of the best teams in the country,” Musselman said. “Missouri played an incredible game. But nothing really is a surprise, I don’t think, in conference play.”