The Arkansas Razorbacks men’s basketball team (12-2, 1-1 SEC) rolled into Baton Rouge, Louisiana Wednesday night, putting a four-game winning streak on the line for a showdown with the LSU Tigers (10-4, 2-0 SEC).
The first half began with 12 minutes of steady, back-and-forth scoring by both teams. Over the next four minutes, the Razorbacks went on a 12-0 run capped off by junior guard Mason Jones’s three-point shot. Jones went 4-7 from behind the arc, 7-15 from the field and 6-6 from the line to rack up 24 points to lead the Hogs in scoring.
LSU finished the half on a 13-5 run to close the gap to just three points. The Tigers preyed upon the Razorbacks’ height disadvantage, holding Arkansas without an offensive rebound in the entire half. The Hogs would only pick up three offensive boards in the second half and lost the overall rebound battle, 53-24.
“I’ve never been a part of a game where it was 26-0 in second chance points and we could have won the game,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said.
Musselman added that his team has to do a better job getting rebounds and called his five-guard lineup the “best rebounding lineup.”
LSU also kept Arkansas sophomore guard Isaiah Joe, who had averaged 17 points per game heading into Wednesday’s game, off the scoreboard in the first half. His first points of the night came nearly five minutes into the second half when he hit a long three-pointer to stop a 7-0 LSU run. Four minutes later, Joe tied the game with a layup but could not turn the foul he took into a three-point play.
The back-and-forth play from the beginning of the game returned for the final five minutes as the two squads took turns leading by one. Graduate senior guard Jimmy Whitt, Jr. gave Arkansas a 74-73 lead with 38 seconds to play.
LSU forward Trendon Watford scored and got fouled six seconds later, tacking on the free throw. The foul was Mason Jones’ fifth of the game, and it left the Hogs without their best offensive weapon for the remainder of the game.
With LSU leading by two, Joe returned the favor to put the Hogs back on top. The Tigers, with the chance for the final play, drove upcourt and got the ball back to Watford, who already had 18
points on the night. Another lane drive, another foul, another made free throw and another two-point Tiger lead followed.
With eight seconds on the clock, the Razorbacks advanced the ball into the hands of Joe, who already had two triples in the half. His attempt was blocked and the ball made its way to junior guard Desi Sills. Sills was denied at the buzzer, ending the contest.
“Their plays absolutely did not hurt us one bit,” Musselman said. “It was free throws attempted and rebounds.”
While Arkansas had the better free throw percentage (94%), LSU’s 28 attempts allowed them to beat the Hogs in the free throw battle 21-17.
The Razorbacks will look to get back in the win column Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi, when they take on Ole Miss. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.