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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks continue to open some eyes

by Wally Hall | February 14, 2021 at 2:58 a.m.

It started out as a big day for the SEC with three teams being named among the top 16 seeds by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Alabama was a No. 2 seed, Tennessee a No. 3, and Missouri a No. 4.

By the time the Arkansas Razorbacks survived some questionable officiating in overtime and knocked off the Missouri Tigers 86-81, the SEC wasn't looking so good.

Alabama romped past Georgia 115-82, but LSU beat Tennessee 78-65 and Arkansas defeated Missouri 86-81.

Right now, with six consecutive SEC wins the Razorbacks look like the best unranked team in the nation, although it took a half for them to find their groove.

Considering how poorly they shot early it was almost amazing the Razorbacks trailed just 35-31 at the intermission.

The Razorbacks were 10 of 30 from the field, and if you take out Moses Moody, who logged only nine minutes because of two fouls, it was pitiful.

Moody was 3 of 4 making the Hogs 7 of 26 without him. The bench was 5 of 16, so there was plenty of blame to go around.

Missouri was doing its damage from behind the arc, making 6 of 14 in the first half, and at one time the Tigers went on a run and made four consecutive threes, all of them uncontested.

In the first minute, it looked like it might be a different game with Moody making two quick field goals, but once Connor Vanover was being guarded by 6-2 Xavier Pinson down low. No one noticed the mismatch, at least not the TV announcers.

That changed drastically in the second half when the Razorbacks quickly made it obvious they knew what they had overlooked in the early going.

Vanover scored eight of the Hogs' first 18 points in six minutes of the second half. When the Tigers sagged in with weak side help to stop his easy scores, he drifted out to three-point land and nailed a pair of treys.

That enabled the Razorbacks to build a 58-51 lead with 11:02 to play after a Moses Moody three, but the Tigers would spend the first 40 minutes living by the three, making 13 of 31.

They made three in a row to tie it at 60-60 , and it was game on for the final eight minutes. When regulation ran out, it was tied at 73.

The Razorbacks were the dominant team in overtime when Mizzou would attempt only one three but would make six of nine free throws to trail just 82-81 with 21.4 second remaining.

That's when it appeared the game might be decided by the officials.

Jalen Tate was called for goal tending, which Eric Musselman protested loudly and sent the referee to the review monitor.

After a very long time, the goal tending was waved off, but the ball was awarded to Missouri on alternating possession despite the fact that an Arkansas player had rebounded.

The Tigers set their offense in motion, but the Razorbacks went into overdrive on defense, inside and out, and with 13.6 seconds to play Missouri turned it over and Moody grabbed it and was fouled.

He made both for an 84-81 lead, and with three seconds to go Missouri tried its only three in overtime, missed and Justin Smith was fouled. He added two more free throws to set the final score.

Moody led the Hogs in the first half with seven points, but in the second half when Arkansas had 12 assists, the scoring was varied. Four players would finish with double-digit scoring led by Smith's 19.

The Razorbacks went into the game with a NCAA NET ranking of No. 26 and should move up after beating a team the NCAA selection committee felt was a No. 4 seed.

Besides, they are the best unranked team in the country.


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