OPINION | WALLY HALL: It’s a long, long climb for the Razorbacks

This is an underachieving Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team that may make a mark in history, handing Eric Musselman his first losing season as a college coach.

It is not him, but them.

When they have the dribble-drive, they pass or chunk a three -- and this is not a three-point shooting team.

They don't hit the boards and they set the stage for Wednesday night's game at Ole Miss in the first half, when they treated the ball like it was a pile of steaming burnt oatmeal.

Ole Miss scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half and led 38-26 at the break and won 77-51.

Ole Miss was not more talented, they were more disciplined and wanted it more, they are undefeated at home for a reason.

Once again, Musselman used 12 different players in search of winning chemistry. Instead of buying in, they sold out for uncontested shots and there was a reason they were uncontested -- they missed.

A three-pointer should be the last port of resort, 5 of 22 isn't going to beat anyone but yourself.

This was not what anyone expected when the Razorbacks face the Rebels.

There's just something about the Ole Miss and Arkansas playing in football or basketball that is rich.

It isn't a rivalry like the Rebels have with LSU in football or Arkansas with Texas, but it is real and has a long history. As sure as Arkansans thank goodness for Mississippi, Mississippians say thank goodness for Arkansas.

Maybe it got serious in 1960 when a field goal was called good giving the Rebs a 10-7 victory when in everyone in the end zone where the kick was made saw it wide.

Whatever it is, there has always been something of a bragging rights at stake when the teams play and basketball has certainly not been an exception.

In basketball, it heated up when Rob Evans was the head coach at Ole Miss. He and Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson were close friends.

With a number of players from Arkansas, including Anthony Boone (now head coach at Central Arkansas), Jason Smith, Hunter Carpenter, Keith Carter (now Ole Miss' athletic director) and Jason Harrison, the Rebels started beating the Razorbacks on a regular basis.

From the 1996-97 season until Richardson's final season in 2002, the Rebels were 8-3 against one of the best teams in the country.

Going into Wednesday night's game, the Razorbacks had won 8 of 9 in the series, But this game pitted two coaches who have never had a losing season as a head college coach.

Beard jump-started his career at Arkansas-Little Rock when in his only season with the Trojans, they went 30-5 and as a No. 12 seed beat Purdue 85-83 in double overtime.

That led to a job at UNLV for 19 days when he was offered the head coaching job at Texas Tech where he spent 10 years as an assistant to Bob and Pat Knight. Lubbock was just a couple of hours away from his three daughters.

In his third season, the Red Raiders went to the NCAA Tournament championship game, losing to Virginia.

Two seasons later, he was on his way to Texas where he was 29-13 before his personal life fell apart after an altercation with his then fiancee, no longer in the picture, which both said was self defense on his part.

Someone was going to hire Beard and Ole Miss made the move last March and they are now 16-3.

Musselman first became a college assistant in 2012 at Arizona State, where he worked for two seasons before heading to LSU in 2014. He was hired as Nevada's head coach in 2015.

Success has been all his with the Razorbacks, but he entered last night's game at 10-8 and the hill facing the Hogs could be a mountain.

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