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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs should expect to continue to see zones

by Wally Hall | January 29, 2023 at 4:02 a.m.

It was that dreaded four-letter word.

Not profanity but the one that can make fans curse.


Baylor came to its senses at halftime and went with a zone defense in the second half and while it wasn't decided until the final seconds, the Arkansas Razorbacks didn't shoot well in the second half and a 33-27 halftime lead dissolved into a 67-64 loss to the Baylor Bears on Saturday.

After making 14 of 23 field goals in the first half, the Hogs hit only 13 of 30 in the second half, and that was one of the biggest differences in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge in Waco, Texas.

The other issues was while the Razorbacks had seven more field goals than Baylor, they shot 13 less free throws -- but free-throw shooting was not a strength either. Baylor, the home team, made 21 of 24 free throws and Arkansas just 6 of 11. Making them is the key word.

Of the Bears' 24, only six were in the final 30 seconds when the Razorbacks had to stop the clock.

The biggest problem for Arkansas, and it has been all season, is scoring over a zone. The Razorbacks' two best outside shooters are out. Trevon Brazile is lost for the season after a knee injury that required surgery and Nick Smith has been out with a knee injury, although he may be back soon.

The Razorbacks attacked the zone fairly well, getting 34 points in the paint. But they were 4 of 14 outside the arc and 28% is not going to win many games. But their defense gave Baylor problems, especially in the first half.

In the early going, it appeared as if the challenge for the Razorbacks was to keep it respectable.

Baylor bolted to a 19-8 lead and appeared to be in total of control, but Arkansas manned-up in their man-to-man defense and the Bears shot like they were blind-folded.

Ricky Council tied it at 20-20 with 6:35 to go in the first half as Baylor missed its next 10 shots, mostly because the Hogs were in their faces.

Baylor got a five-point play when Eric Musselman got teed up after an iffy blocking call that allowed the Bears to break their drought, made the free throw on the foul and two more on the technical for a 25-20 lead.

Saying the momentum did not swing would be like saying it gets cold in Alaska, kind of like Baylor's shooting the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Arkansas didn't slow down and took the lead 28-27 on a three-point play by Davonte Davis and stayed in the face of the Bears on defense and attacked the goal for a 33-27 halftime lead.

In the last 9:24, Baylor was 1-of-17 shooting and only the halftime buzzer stopped the Hogs' 25-8 run. At intermission, Baylor changed to a zone and obviously made some adjustments and the Bears got a 13-0 run for a 62-53 lead with just 1:21 to play. But the Hogs didn't quit.

They scrapped and clawed and with just 4.8 seconds left, Davis took the only open shot on the floor, a layup, to put it within 65-64.

Baylor was 4 of 4 on free throws in the last 11 seconds and with time running out they fouled Davis, who was racing down the court, putting him on the line where he missed intentionally and the Hogs got a desperation three that wasn't close.

In reality there is no such thing as a quality loss, but if there was, this would have been one.

Baylor came into the game on a five-game win streak and a NCAA NET ranking of No. 14.

Thanks to their defense, the Razorbacks took it down to the final seconds and that's what they have to do because this is not the last time they are going to see a zone defense.

They attacked it pretty good, but scoring over one has been a problem for a while now.

Print Headline: Hogs should expect to continue to see zones


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