Before Wednesday night’s game against Ole Miss, strengths could found with this year’s Arkansas basketball team.
But after their worst loss to Ole Miss in more than 50 years and the potential shelving of their two best players, the Razorbacks are dire need of a miracle. Those strengths are withering.
Arkansas was without leading scorer Tramon Mark against the Rebels and played without forward Trevon Brazile for most of the second half. The Rebels took advantage in a 77-51 win by not having to worry about any of Arkansas’ wings or guards being overly aggressive by attacking or any of Arkansas’ forwards stretching the floor and forcing defensive shifts because of athleticism.
In other words, the Hogs became incredibly easy to play against.
Coach Eric Musselman said after the game that Brazile is considered day-to-day for now until his sore knee is checked out by the team doctor back in Fayetteville. He didn’t clarify – purposefully – which knee was bothering the player who missed all of SEC play last season because of knee surgery. Mark should be back sooner rather than later, but migraines are difficult cases, too.
That’s the future, though. Let’s examine just what Ole Miss did, or what Arkansas didn’t do, on Wednesday.
Raise your hand if you thought offense would be one of Arkansas’ more serious issues in 2023-24? The Razorbacks were mediocre with Tramon Mark in the lineup, even, but without him? Things were awful.
The Hogs shot 33% from the floor and 23% from 3-point range against Ole Miss. Their 51 points tied for their lowest output this season and the first time it happened, the total was the fewest number of points Arkansas had scored in the Eric Musselman era.
Musselman made a point to say it after the game Wednesday: Arkansas’ 5-position players had zero defensive rebounds against the Rebels. Makhi Mitchell played 12 minutes, Baye Fall played six, Chandler Lawson played six and Jalen Graham played 13. Together, the foursome had a total of five rebounds total.
Ole Miss outrebounded Arkansas by eight on the defensive glass and seven on the offensive side.
One of the few strengths Arkansas had had this season was getting to the free-throw line. The Razorbacks entered Wednesday tops in the SEC in free-throw attempts (even if they were 10th in free-throw percentage). Only 18 tries from the foul stripe against the Rebels wasn’t going to cut it on a night shots weren’t falling, especially when only 12 went through the hoop.