The Razorback men’s basketball team headed to Starkville, Mississippi, looking to take out the top rebounding team in the conference, but they could not overcome the Bulldogs’ size and fell on the road, 77-70.
Arkansas entered the game coming off of a disappointing loss to Kentucky in Bud Walton Arena on Saturday. The Razorbacks blew a slight three-point lead in the last seven minutes of that game by giving up a late 15-0 run against the then-ranked No. 10 team in the country.
Sloppy play late in the game would come back to bite the Razorbacks again as a similar situation would cost the Hogs a win in Starkville.
Arkansas never led in the second half but was able to keep the score close by cutting the deficit to three with under nine minutes to play. Mississippi State was able to drag the lead out to 11 over the next five minutes, outscoring Arkansas 12-4 during that time.
Like Kentucky, Mississippi State had too much size for the Razorback defense to guard. The tallest Razorback in the starting lineup was senior forward Adrio Bailey at 6-feet-6-inches. The Bulldogs started four players 6-feet-6-inches or taller.
“We have to play near flawless basketball in order to beat a team like (Mississippi State),” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “We did not.”
The Bulldogs’ sophomore forward Reggie Perry, who was once thought to be joining Arkansas before decommitting, used his size to dominate the Hogs. Perry, who stands at 6-feet-10-inches and weighs 250 pounds, used all of his size to tie a career-high 26 points on 6-of-13 shooting and 14-15 from the free-throw line. Perry grabbed 13 rebounds, four of them offensive, and blocked two shots. It was Perry’s 20th career double-double.
Perry was clearly the go-to man for the Bulldogs, but it was not a one-man show. Three other Bulldogs scored double-digit points. Junior guard Nick Weatherspoon stuffed the stat-sheet. He scored 11 and collected six rebounds while dishing out six assists.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Joe struggled for the Hogs in the game. He only made two of his 13 shot attempts, and only one-of-eight from three-point range. He was also late to rotate on defense and gave up a few open three-point shots to Mississippi State.
The duo of junior guard Mason Jones and senior guard Jimmy Whitt Jr. provided 40 points with them scoring 20 each. Jones led the team with four assists and seven rebounds as well.
The bench for Arkansas played well. The bench combined for 17 points and made eight of their ten shot attempts.
The factors that cost Arkansas were rebounding, free-throws and poor three-point shooting. Arkansas only made four-of-20 shots from deep. The Hogs were out-rebounded 41-31 and 11-7 on the offensive boards. Arkansas only took 11 free-throws and only made six. In comparison, Mississippi State was 27-31 from the line.
Arkansas was able to get to the rim and score against poor interior defense. The Razorbacks’ ability to finish at the rim kept the Bulldogs from pulling away early because the deep shots were not falling.
The Razorbacks’ next game is Saturday, Jan. 25, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville at 3 p.m. against the TCU Horned Frogs in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.