They were in it, then out of it, then made a run, then were out again, then really out, then we all thought they gave up, then all of a sudden it was close, then a few more bad plays and it was over.
The first thing everyone will point to is Arkansas' poor free throw shooting, which is fair considering Arkansas was a paltry 20-34 (58.8%). But Vanderbilt also missed 13 free throws, so that's basically even.
Arkansas lost for the same reasons they lost almost every other game away from Bud Walton all year, they just didn't seem like they cared for most of the game. The Hogs were down by 14 in the first half. They allowed Vanderbilt to score 31 points, a respectable total for a complete half, in the first 12:26. That's just a total lack of effort on defense.
Sure, the Commodores were hot, but many of the shots were barely contested, if at all. It felt like open three after open three. At one point in the first half, Arkansas set up its usual two-man press at the beginning of a possession, and the Vanderbilt player ended up making a coast-to-coast layup. That was simply embarrassing.
For much of the game, it was hard to figure out who was actually trying. Michael Qualls led the team in scoring until late, and, bless his heart, was too excited after Arkansas forced a turnover late that could have resulted in a tied game that he tried to force a bad pass and it resulted in a turnover, but at least he made an effort.
Powell was doing a good job rebounding (9) and getting to the free throw line, but struggled from the stripe, going 7 for 15, and only 3 of 10 from the field. He did have an awesome steal + layup late in the game when many thought the game was over.
The stat sheet will tell you BJ Young led the team in scoring, which he did, but 9 of his 16 points came in the last 2:49. He was hard to find on the court for much of the game until the end.
Rashad Madden came on really strong late in the second half. He basically kickstarted the late run with a jumper and a three. He also grabbed seven rebounds to go along with two assists and zero turnovers while playing a quasi-point guard role.
Coty Clarke also had a decent offensive night. If you just look at the team's offensive stats, they played well enough to win. Arkansas scored 42 points in the second half and 17 in the final 5 minutes. They just didn't play well enough defensively by allowing Vanderbilt 38 and 37 points in the two halves. And for a team that claims it's focus is defense, Vanderbilt is not good enough to warrant that many points. Yes, if Arkansas makes their free throws, they probably win, but if Vanderbilt makes theirs, it's possibly a blowout. The Razorbacks weren't imposing enough on defense, allowing the Commodores to drain 12 threes.
Point anything out in the stats you want, it's just a disappointing end to an absurdly frustrating season. Arkansas doesn't win a game in the SEC Tournament for the fifth year in a row. Think about that. 0-5 in SEC Tournaments in the last five years. And Arkansas hasn't played the few really good teams in the conference in the tournament because they all get byes until Friday. 0-5 against mediocre/crappy teams. That's ridiculous.