OPINION — Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: This is not like any of Muss’ previous teams

By the first TV timeout of the second half Wednesday night, Arkansas trailed by just eight, 56-48, but were 2-of-7 shooting and Tennessee was 4 of 8.

At the next timeout, the Vols had hit two threes and a pair of free throws, and the Razorbacks were 1 of 3 and it was about to get ugly. By the third timeout Tennessee led 71-49 on 8-of-13 shooting, including 3 of 5 on threes. Arkansas was 4 of 14 and 1 of 5.

There was no leadership on the floor when the Vols flexed their muscles, cut off the driving lanes and forced the Hogs to shoot jumpers.

When Arkansas did get a shot in the paint, it was usually a floater that bounced off the rim.

No reason to even mention Arkansas' defensive effort in the second half.

This is not the same type of team Eric Musselman had in his first four seasons.

As he stares into the possibility of enduring his first losing season as a college head coach, he does so with a team that lacks the one thing his first four teams had:

A player expected to depart early for the NBA Draft.

A guy so talented that the NBA is charting his every move but still young enough to be coached, taught and molded into a top shelf college player.

Most of this year's team seems settled on how their game is going to be played and lots of times it appears to not include defense.

Anthony Black, Nick Smith and Moses Moody are not dressing out in a Razorback uniform. Neither are Ricky Council IV, Jordan Walsh, Jaylin Williams or even Mason Jones.

In the history of Arkansas basketball, the Razorbacks have made 11 Elite Eights and four were during Nolan Richardson's 17 seasons.

Musselman has two in just five seasons, but this March is sizing up more like spring break than the NCAA Tournament.

After losing to Tennessee 92-63 at home Wednesday, Arkansas dropped five more spots in the NCAA NET rankings to No. 133. You can't see March Madness from there.

To salvage this season, the Razorbacks will need to not only listen to what Musselman and his staff say, but do it.

At 12-12 and with seven regular season games left, now would be a good time to start peaking and preparing for the SEC Tournament, which is this team's only hope of getting invited to the Big Dance.

. . .

History will start to be made tonight at the Statehouse Convention Center when Eric Jackson is inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.

Jackson, the senior vice president of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, created Instant Racing, which basically kept the doors at Oaklawn open when tracks all over the country where shutting down.

On April 18, Jackson will make a return trip to the Statehouse Convention Center to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Jackson is not the only distinguished business/sports personality to make both halls of fame, but he's the first to do it in one year.

John L. Connor, Gary C. George and Dhu C. Thompson will be also be inducted tonight.

Jackson, a native of Hot Springs and a graduate of Hendrix College, is only the eighth person associated with Oaklawn to be inducted in the ASHOF.

He became Oaklawn's director operations in 1978 and general manager in 1987, where he served until 2017 when he became senior vice president.

When he started developing Instant Racing which grew into games of skill and eventually casino gambling, the daily purse distribution average for the entire meet was about $215,000. This season, Oaklawn averages more than $900,000 in purses per live racing day.

The two-step into the history books begins tonight for a very deserving Eric Jackson.

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