Razorbacks look to bounce back
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of Arkansas basketball team is getting ready for its third Saturday-to-Tuesday night turnaround in SEC play this season, but with a twist.
For the first time, the Razorbacks are playing both games on the road.
Arkansas (14-9, 5-5) plays at Missouri (11-11, 2-8) at 8 p.m. Tuesday after losing at South Carolina 77-65 on Saturday.
The previous two times the Razorbacks played on Saturday and Tuesday, they had a road game followed by a home game.
Arkansas lost at home to
LSU and at Tennessee in its first Saturday-to-Tuesday games, then won at LSU and at home against Georgia.
“I think every game you play on the road is going to be a challenge in our league,” Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said after Saturday’s game. “Our league is really, really good. Contrary to what
everybody thinks, it’s a really good league no matter where you play.
“So it certainly is a challenge, but it’s the next game on our schedule. We’ve got to get this one out of our system, and learn from it, and get ready for a Missouri team that we played earlier in the year.”
Arkansas beat Missouri 72-60 in Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Jan. 23 when the Tigers couldn’t hold onto a 13-point after jumping ahead 17-4.
The Razorbacks know how the Tigers felt that night. Arkansas couldn’t hold a 13-point lead at South Carolina after going ahead 50-37.
South Carolina outscored Arkansas 40-15 the final 15:07.
“We were all down because we know we should have won,” Razorbacks sophomore guard Mason Jones said. “But we’re going to get through it.
“It’s going to be tough, but like Coach said, he’s going to get us ready for Missouri. We’ll recover when we get back and be ready for the next game.
“We’ve just got to keep at it. Keep pushing, keep fighting. We’re going to get there.”
Where the Razorbacks find themselves after losing at South Carolina is tied for
seventh in the SEC standings with Alabama.
“It’s got to hurt until midnight, and then we’ve got to have short-term memory,” Anderson said of bouncing back from the South Carolina game. “We’ve got to get ready, because Missouri will be ready to play. And we’ll be ready to play as well.”
South Carolina had 21 turnovers against Arkansas, but
shot 54.2 percent from the field (26 of 48) and hit 10 of 15 three-pointers.
In the second half, when the Gamecocks had just six turnovers, they shot 60.7 percent (17 of 28). They made 7 of 12 free throws in the second half after going 8 of 14 in the first half.
“When you turn the ball over, it deflates you,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. “When you miss free throws, it deflates you.
“In the second half we stopped turning it over, which allowed us to get shots and not give them open-court shots. They’re hard to defend if you put them in the open court.”
Martin said the Gamecocks had better spacing on offense in the second half to create better passing lanes so Arkansas couldn’t force as many turnovers.
The Razorbacks’ uptempo style of play, Martin said, also helped South Carolina be able to come back.
“If you’re down 13 to Virginia, because of how they play, that’s really hard,” said Martin, whose team lost 6952 earlier this season to the Cavaliers. “But the way [the Razorbacks] play, I’m not saying it’s easy … We just had to score.”
Freshman guard A.J. Lawson led South Carolina with 24 points and freshman forward Keyshawn Bryant scored 17.
“Obviously, we made some threes and some defensive adjustments got us into the open court,” Martin said. “Which allowed A.J. and Keyshawn to play with their athleticism.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks, who got 17 points from sophomore guard Jalen Harris and 15 from Jones, weren’t as quick to the ball in the second half as they were in the first half and that South Carolina was more active.
“A lot of times when you make shots, it gives you a lot more energy,” he said. “This time of the year it’s about the energy, man.
“Who brings the energy, and they had enough in the tank to finish it out in those last few minutes.”
The Gamecocks went on a 22-4 run to take a 59-54 lead, but Arkansas responded by going ahead 61-59 on a tip-in basket by sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, who scored a season-low eight points in 22 foul-plagued minutes.
South Carolina then took control of the game and finished on a 14-2 run.
“We thought we were going to absorb that punch,” Jones said of regaining the lead. “But then they got on another run.
“South Carolina’s a good team. Give credit to them. When they took the momentum, the crowd got behind them and they just ran with it.”
Arkansas sophomore guard Mason Jones (13), who had 15 points in Saturday’s 77-65 loss to South Carolina, said the Razorbacks “just got to keep at it. Keep pushing, keep fighting. We’re going to get there.”