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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Pride took more than pay from Razorbacks

by Wally Hall | December 19, 2021 at 3:02 a.m.

With 8:06 to play, it appeared the Arkansas Razorbacks were going to do whatever it took to get the momentum for the first time and squeak out a win.

They trailed 64-50 when they went on an 11-0 run with a pair of threes, two three-point plays and a dunk to make it 64-61 with 6:18 to play.

Hofstra could have fallen apart like a $2 tee shirt.

Instead, they attacked the Razorback rim and pulled back to 74-64 with 2:36 to play and all 10 points were in the paint. Then a three-pointer, only Hofstra's second of the half, sent a few of the fans headed to the exits.

They didn't miss much the final 1:31 as Arkansas was forced to foul and Hofstra felt obligated to make the free throws and escape with an 89-81 victory that didn't look like an upset.

There's always some concern when a team plays for the first time after final exams, especially when they got blown out in their previous game like Arkansas did by Oklahoma.

Still, no one could have expected Hofstra, a private school on Long Island, to basically dominate the Razorbacks in the opening half like the Pride did.

Granted, no one should have expected the Razorbacks to flex a muscle it is still looking for. This is still a team under construction, about where they were a year ago when coming of their 11th game they were 9-2 and Eric Musselman was still putting the pieces together without tightening the bolts.

On Saturday night, though, in front of a huge crowd at Simmons Bank Arena, the Razorbacks found themselves playing catch up most of the first half.

The home team led for a total of 43 seconds. They were tied for 3:31, but that means they trailed for almost 16 minutes against a team that basically came for the pay day.

It wasn't that the Pride was better, they just showed more poise and better shot selection.

Arkansas shot the three like they been burning the midnight oil for a month instead of a week.

In the first half, they hit 3 of 14 and if not for Chris Lykes coming off the bench to hit 2 of 4 the Hogs might have found themselves back in boot camp this week. In fact, all 3 threes came from the bench as Jaxson Robinson was 1 for 1.

Musselman worked his team long and hard between exams, just as he did a year ago when they weren't playing smart or hard enough.

That was when things began to change, that and Justin Smith returned from injury and became the on- and off-court leader.

Davonte "Devo" Davis worked his way into the starting lineup and with Jalen Tate established at point guard, it started coming together.

That's not going to happen this season until someone steps up to be a pass-first point guard.

Davis is giving it his all to help, but right now it seems the point guard position is being played by committee.

Give Hofstra credit, though. They were athletic and tougher than a claw hammer on a pecan.

They attacked, racked and sacked.

They scrambled for every loose ball and contested every pass and shot.

It didn't look like they were just coming off finals but they were. It had been six days since they last played and beat someone named John Jay 102-51. OK, that's a Division III school in New York.

The Pride was just 6-5 before Saturday, and the win was huge for them and their program.

As for the Razorbacks, it is back to work. Maybe more boot camp, maybe more work at point guard, although the Hogs had 16 assists by seven different guys.

When they had a chance to take the lead, they came up short and Hofstra led for almost 36 of the 40 minutes.

Print Headline: Pride took more than pay from Razorbacks


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