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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs better but still have plenty to overcome

by Wally Hall | January 20, 2023 at 2:28 a.m.

They had a chance to turn the corner Wednesday night against Missouri but blew a 10-point lead in the last five minutes and fell 79-76.

The Arkansas Razorbacks were improved, may have at least found the corner and are in a position to see better defense, better ball protection and better decision-making will help make the turn.

Turnovers were the difference, and every Razorback who played more than one minute had at least one for a total of 21 that the Tigers converted into 31 points.

That was 40% of the Tigers' scoring.

Free throws accounted for 39%, as Mizzou made 30 of 40 free throws. Arkansas made 23 of 26.

The Razorbacks had more field goals, more three-pointers and outrebounded the Tigers 42-23, but they couldn't overcome their own mistakes.

As far as the free-throw differential -- which doesn't seem to concern the SEC -- the officials called 56 personal fouls, 33 on Arkansas. That's a foul being called on a Razorback about every 1 minute, 21 seconds.

That's almost mind-boggling.

Granted, Arkansas plays aggressive defense most of the time and head coach Eric Musselman is very active and emotional on the sideline. But other coaches in the SEC vent at the officials, too.

Maybe the real problem is that too many SEC officials want to be part of the game, and that's why fans know so many of them by name.

Apparently, the Hogs are just going to have to overcome the officials as well as opponents.

Overall, Arkansas shot better for the second consecutive game. They rebounded and ran the court with a few lapses, like in the first half when they went 5:42 without a field goal.

That's when someone has to step up, whether it's a McDonald's All-American or a transfer.

Derrian Ford, a true freshman from Magnolia, turned in a solid nine minutes off the bench, scoring four points and playing solid defense.

Musselman is using more players in a game than he has in the past, so there is talent and competition in practice.

On Saturday, the Razorbacks host Ole Miss, which is 1-5 in SEC play and fresh off its only conference victory over South Carolina on Tuesday night.

Never take Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis lightly. He is the same coach who led Middle Tennessee to three NCAA Tournaments and knocked off No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 5 Minnesota in back-to-back Big Dances.

. . .

Judging by how long it took for Sam Pittman to hire Dan Enos as his new offensive coordinator, Arkansas' head football coach knew who he wanted before Kendal Briles had buckled his seat belt on the plane out of town.

Enos worked with Pittman at Arkansas during an 8-5 season, so there was a working knowledge of each other.

Enos' resume is pretty good, too. He was a head coach at Central Michigan but left there for Arkansas, where he worked three years but wasn't retained by Chad Morris.

He spent a year at Alabama and took the first train out of town to Miami after a year and eventually landed at Maryland where he had a family reunion of sorts. At Alabama, he was the quarterback coach on a 14-1 team and Tua Tagovailoa was his signal-caller. Last season, his quarterback was Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua's younger brother.

Before he arrived, the Terps didn't have a winning season in six years, two under head coach Mike Locksley, who hired Enos to turn things around, and he did.

Maryland was 15-11 the past two years, 7-6 and 8-5, including two bowl wins.

Enos has been coaching for 33 years and he was a quarterback at Michigan State, where he passed for 3,837 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also ran for 464 yards.

Print Headline: Hogs better but still have plenty to overcome


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