Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE
Honestly, I thought this game was going to get ugly. When Syracuse went on a 23-5 run in the first half to take a 30-15 lead, I wondered if the Razorbacks, coming off back-to-back losses in Las Vegas, would be able to hang with the sixth-ranked Orange.
But Arkansas did.
It helped when James Southerland, who set a personal high with 35 points and 9 three-pointers, began to cool off after the big run. Not only did Southerland cool off, BJ Young began to heat up. The Hogs leading scorer ended up with 18 points in the first half-50% of the team's 38 points-and Arkansas only trailed Syracuse by 5 points at halftime.
Young couldn't quite keep up the pace in the second, only scoring seven points, but Marshawn Powell got into a bit of a groove and ended up with 19 points of his own. The Razorbacks did end up with 82 points, which is very solid, especially considering Syracuse hadn't given up more than 57 points in any of their games thus far. But the Hogs couldn't put it together defensively. Again, it bears repeating, Southerland was basically indefensible. He, again, scored 35 points and knocked down 9 threes. He probably should have been double-teamed, but Syracuse's remarkable size throughout their lineup would have made that quite difficult.
It's clear the Razorbacks still have to work on playing together. There were a few times when it seemed players weren't in the right place to receive passes, knew where to dish on the fast break, or helping on defense. I think that will come with time, however.
Speaking of helping on defense, that has to be why Hunter Mickelson is seeing such limited minutes. He only played 11 minutes, and it didn't even feel like that many. He scored 5 points, including a jumper and reverse lay-up early in the game. Honestly, he may have the most reliable mid-range jumper on the team. He's got the height to get it off whenever he wants. But on defense, well, there was one play that featured a Syracuse player driving down the lane, and Mickelson was the only player in position to get in front of him, watched him dribble all the way to the rim, and instead of moving his feet to get in front of him, jumped and waved at the ball in a feeble attempt at a block. He didn't play much in the game afterwards.
A couple of other oddities from the game: Syracuse ended up with four players with four fouls, at least two of them (Southerland was one) picking up their fourth with a few minutes left in the game, yet not one of them fouled out. The Razorbacks started to look a bit tired toward the end of the game and didn't have the aggressiveness to go after those players and try to foul them out. The apparent fatigue also prevented the Hogs from playing with much urgency in the last few minutes. There were two possessions that only saw players pass the ball around the perimeter until the shot clock was below 10 seconds, and the Hogs still couldn't come up with points. Is Coty Clarke going to take his starting spot eventually? Clarke played 24 minutes, scored 9 points, and added 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists. He's coming along nicely.
It's been said before this season, but Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott need to come back to life. The two of them combined for four points in 29 minutes. All four points came on free throws. Wade attempted four threes and missed them all. The two of them are junior leaders, have proved their ability to be effective players, and the team needs them to perform consistently if the Hogs are going to have success.
Oh, and James Southerland, who is 6'8", made 9 three point shots. And totaled 35 points. 22 in the first half.
This loss makes the Oklahoma game on Tuesday really important. Arkansas travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan after the game against the Sooners, and it's really hard to imagine the Razorbacks having much of a chance to win in a place like Michigan while they're riding a four-game losing streak. Additionally, these big, early games are important for NCAA Tournament resume-building. It goes without saying, but the Hogs need wins.
And that technical foul on B.J. after the dunk in the first half? That was crap.
Mike Anderson Fashion Watch: Black suit, white shirt, silver tie. He was stylin. He knew he was on TV.