Conference Road Wins Prove Difficult to Come By
With a win over Tennessee Saturday afternoon, the men’s Razorback basketball team improved their record to 4-4, with each of the wins coming in the comfortable confines of Bud Walton Arena.
Since Mike Anderson took the reigns to the basketball program, the Razorbacks have won only one Southeastern Conference road game, a 77-71 defeat of the Auburn Tigers at the end of last season.
This lack of success away from home has led some of the more fickle Razorback fans to question wether Anderson is the right man for the job, even before he has completed his second season as head coach of the Hogs.
The truth is, winning any college basketball game on the road is challenging, but winning conference games on the road can be close to impossible.
Fans are rarely more excited than when familiar conference rivals roll into town and that creates an atmosphere that can be difficult for the visiting team to overcome.
In Anderson’s defense, he did not inherit a team that was accustomed to winning on the road. The last time the Razorbacks finished .500 or above in conference road play TLC and Boyz II Men were topping the charts, gas was $1.35 a gallon and the Hogs were only a year removed from celebrating a national title.
Beginning with the 1995-96 season, the Razorbacks have a conference road game winning percentage of just over 22 percent.
Arkansas isn’t the only team that has trouble winning on the road, though.
Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, only two teams win more than 50 percent of their SEC games away from home. Kentucky leads the conference, winning almost 65 percent of the time followed by Florida, who won almost 53 percent of their games during that time.
Two teams, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, won exactly half of their SEC road games during that frame of time.
Texas A&M also has a .500 winning percentage, but the Aggies have only played four conference road games as a member of the SEC.
Eight teams join Arkansas under the .500 mark during that time. That includes Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina who each won less than 25 percent of their games since 2008.
The other team playing their first season in the SEC, Missouri, has never won a conference road game as a member of the SEC, but they have only played three.
So to those fans ready to give up their seat on the Anderson bandwagon, I say sit back down. Give Anderson and the players a little more time.
If the team couldn’t win at home, I might be willing to give up my seat to the next nice old lady that walked by, but as it is, I still have faith that Anderson can get the road kinds worked out..
Haley Markle is the assistant sports editor for the Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Monday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.