Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorbacks have last dance in the end

by Wally Hall | February 9, 2022 at 2:48 a.m.

Down goes Auburn.

Down goes The Associated Press' No. 1-ranked team in the country, 80-76 in overtime.

The Arkansas Razorbacks made one field goal in overtime, but 11 of 14 free throws and now have the longest winning streak in the SEC at 10 games. Auburn had won 19 going into Tuesday night's game.

It was the Tigers' second loss of the season.

There were 15 ties and 17 lead changes, the last coming with 1:52 to play when Jaylin Williams hit two free throws for a 71-70 Arkansas lead.

That came after JD Notae hit the Hogs' only overtime field goal, a three-pointer with 3:06 to play.

Immediately after the game, Coach Eric Musselman said his team had watched the Tigers dance on the Razorback logo at midcourt before the game and didn't like it.

The unranked Razorbacks played with a vengeance from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

Their defense was stifling at times, and during the first half Auburn went through a streak where it made only 2 of 19 shots, and it wasn't just cold shooting.

Arkansas denied the Tigers shots in the paint, and were so in their face they could have told you the last time the Auburn players brushed their teeth and what brand toothpaste they used.

Arkansas had four players in double figures scoring led by Notae with 28.

It was the second time the Razorbacks have beaten a No. 1 team in Arkansas. The first was 1984 against North Carolina in Pine Bluff. The Hogs lost to UNLV in 1991 at Barnhill Arena.

Auburn is good, very good, but it has never been a basketball powerhouse.

If one thinks about the Tigers and hoops, one name pops into mind: Charles Barkley. Dwell on the subject and you might come up with a couple of more.

Things are different on The Plains now.

On the same day the Auburn Board of Trustees met to approve head basketball Coach Bruce Pearl's $50 million contract, they discussed firing football Coach Bryan Harsin after one season.

The past four football coaches, going all the way back to Terry Bowden, have received buyouts as they went out the door having been fired or forced out.

Those four coaches received more than $36 million to not coach at Auburn.

Obviously, Auburn has had some knee-jerk reactions when it comes to hiring and firing football coaches, and making Pearl the highest paid coach on campus might send a new message.

Basketball matters as much as the bread winner, football.

In front of a record crowd at Bud Walton, great defense allowed the Razorbacks to claw to a 27-15 lead with 4:13 to play in the first half, but no one ever felt like it was going to be easy.

At that point, the Tigers turned up the heat with their defense, and Arkansas went the final 8:28 without a field goal and getting only five free throws.

In the final 3:27, the visitors got three field goals and four free throws, and the Razorbacks went into the locker room with a 28-25 lead in large part because they had converted 11 turnovers into 15 points.

They battled like two heavyweights all of the second half, and the referees didn't get in the way except for grabbing. That was something Auburn did too much of.

The Razorbacks made 26 of 32 free throws to 8 of 17 for the Tigers, who probably wish they had spent more time shooting free throws during warm-ups and less time dancing on the Razorback logo.

Arkansas improved its record to 19-5 and 8-3 in SEC play.

The 10-game win streak has had a common thread: Defense. When the Hogs play it, and Tuesday night they forced 19 turnovers (11 steals), they can play with anyone, even the No. 1 team in the country.

Print Headline: Razorbacks have last dance in the end


Sponsor Content