OPINION — Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Teamwork helps propel Hogs over Aggies

It was obvious from start to finish.

Arkansas' win at Texas A&M on Tuesday night was the result of teamwork on both ends of the court.

Once -- not the usual 12 or 14 time -- a Razorback launched a quick three and the miss resulted in him getting a look of 'What were you thinking?' from a teammate.

Except for that, the Hogs were under control. They moved hard and fast on offense and defense, none of that standing around waiting to take a shot.

They cut, back cut and kept the ball moving.

They had 12 assists on 23 field goals. That's teamwork and that may be their magic number. They had 10 assists at Mississippi State and lost 71-67 after the Bulldogs made 19 of 32 free throws to Arkansas' 14 of 19.

Makhi Mitchell had a monster game and when he plays like he did Tuesday night, the Hogs are much better.

Not only did he score 22 points and grab five rebounds, he had four blocks and changed about 10 shots as the Aggies struggled from the field. They couldn't handle Mitchell, fouling him at least a half dozen times.

For the first time in a while, Eric Musselman went with eight players and he got maximum effort out of them.

That's not to say they've turned a corner. But with Missouri and Vanderbilt up next, they have a chance to win consecutive games -- something they haven't done since Santa was checking his naughty and nice list.

The victory moved the Hogs up 12 spots to No. 124 in the NCAA NET rankings -- and dropped the Aggies five spots to No. 50 -- so they are still looking at having to win the SEC Tournament to make the Big Dance.

What the Hogs need now is some help.

They don't want to be in a Wednesday play-in game at the SEC Tournament and have to win four games in four days.

They need to move ahead of two teams to get that first-round bye. The two just ahead of them in the SEC standings are Georgia and LSU, which both played Wednesday night.

Georgia is 5-8 in league play after winning at Vanderbilt 76-64 and LSU is 6-7 thanks to a last-second 75-74 victory over Kentucky in Baton Rouge.

After Missouri and Vanderbilt, Arkansas (4-9) is at Kentucky, hosts LSU and finishes at Alabama.

Georgia still has games at home against Auburn, at LSU, home for Texas A&M and Ole Miss and at Auburn.

LSU has home games with Mississippi State and Georgia before going to Vanderbilt and Arkansas and finishing at home against Missouri.

It is a tall order, but the Razorbacks started the final leg of the journey playing like an unselfish team on the road.

. . .

If the NCAA Tournament bids were going out today, Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida wouldn't have anything to worry about.

South Carolina is having a phenomenally surprising season at 21-5 overall and 9-4 in league play, but a soft nonconference schedule has the Gamecocks currently ranked No. 58 in the NET.

Ole Miss is having a solid year under Chris Beard at 19-7 and 6-7, but have a NET ranking of 67, while Mississippi State is ranked No. 41 but is 18-8 and 7-6.

At this point, the SEC is looking like seven bids in the Big Dance, but there are lots of games left.

. . .

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, Alabama and Tennessee are looking at No. 2 seeds. But if one of them wins out, including the SEC championship, they could slide ahead of UConn for a No. 1 seed.

Houston, Purdue and Arizona would have to fall apart to lose their No. 1 seeds.

Kentucky is looking like a No. 5 seed and that won't go over well in the Bluegrass state where a number of fans are weary of John Calipari.

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