Photographs by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas guard Jaylen Barford goes up for a shot during a game against LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Friday, January 12, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- A week ago the Arkansas Razorbacks were ranked No. 22 in The Associated Press top 25 poll.
On Wednesday night against LSU, the Razorbacks looked more like the No. 220 team in the nation.
LOSING BIG AT HOME
LSU’s 75-54 victory over Arkansas on Wednesday night was the third most-lopsided loss the Razorbacks have suffered at home in the 25 seasons since Walton Arena opened.
The five most-lopsided margins in the Razorbacks’ losses at home during the Walton Arena era:
30 points;Florida 98-68 over Arkansas;Feb. 18, 2012
22 points;Auburn 73-51 over Arkansas;Jan. 24, 2009
21 points;LSU 75-54 over Arkansas;Jan. 10 , 2018
18 points;Alabama 88-70 over Arkansas;Jan. 24, 1995
tie 17 points;Ole Miss 91-74 over Arkansas;Jan. 2, 1997
tie 17 points;Georgia 81-64 over Arkansas; Jan. 18, 2003
tie 17 points;Vanderbilt 89-72 over Arkansas;Feb. 27, 2009
SOURCE Arkansas media guide
LSU came into Walton Arena and pounded the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 75-54.
The Tigers' 21-point winning margin was the third most-lopsided loss the Razorbacks have suffered at home in the 25 seasons since Walton Arena opened, surpassed only be a 30-point loss to Florida (98-68) in 2012 and a 22-point defeat to Auburn (73-51) in 2009.
LSU Coach Will Wade, in his first game at Walton Arena, was asked if beating Arkansas so convincingly on the road came as a surprise.
"Shocked," Wade said. "I mean, you don't ..."
But the Tigers did -- shooting 52.7 percent from the field and finishing with a 44-26 edge on points in the paint --and the Razorbacks didn't.
"Obviously, coming off a long night," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said when he met with members of the media Thursday. "Didn't get much sleep."
Anderson didn't want to spend a lot of time dwelling on the loss to LSU (11-4, 2-1 SEC) with Missouri (12-4, 2-1) coming to Walton Arena for a game Saturday after the Tigers defeated Georgia 68-56 on Wednesday.
"I'm looking forward to our guys really improving upon the performance we had the other night," Anderson said. "That was not a typical Razorback performance, and we vow to make sure that people see the real Razorbacks when we play Saturday."
The Razorbacks (11-5, 1-3) have lost three consecutive games -- at Mississippi State 78-75 and at Auburn 88-77 last week along with the drubbing by LSU -- since they were ranked in the AP poll for the first time since the end of the 2014-15 season.
So how does a team play impressively enough to get ranked-- with victories against Oklahoma, Connecticut, Minnesota and Tennessee -- and a few days later has a three-game losing streak?
"It's life," Arkansas senior guard Jaylen Barford said.
After the LSU game Anderson repeated a phrase often used by Nolan Richardson, his coach at Tulsa who led the Razorbacks to 389 victories and 13 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 seasons, highlighted by the 1994 national championship.
Anderson was with Richardson as an assistant coach for his entire tenure at Arkansas.
"All sickness isn't death, as my mentor said," Anderson said. "As long as we can get up tomorrow, we're going to have an opportunity to get better.
"And we'll get better from this. Trust me, we will."
Arkansas has six seniors who also experienced a 1-3 conference start last season, including a home loss to Mississippi State.
The Razorbacks recovered to go 12-6 in the SEC, earn an NCAA Tournament bid and take eventual national champion North Carolina to the wire in a second-round game before the Tar Heels overcame a four-point deficit with less than four minutes left to win 72-65.
"We're trying to be better than last year," Barford said. "Three games is not really that many games, honestly. We've just got to dial in and win."
Anderson said on Monday that the Razorbacks would stress being more defensive-minded against LSU, but they didn't play with a sense of urgency to start the game as the Tigers jumped ahead 19-5 and pushed their lead to 36-12 with 4:54 left in the first half.
"I saw two days in practice that we brought that," Anderson said. "Our defense and our intensity was really, really amped up.
"So it surprised me that we came out and played the way we did."
Arkansas' defensive effort suffered in the first half when the Razorbacks shot 18.2 percent (6 of 33) from the field.
Instead of driving to the basket or working to get the ball inside to 6-11 Daniel Gafford, the Razorbacks continually took -- and missed -- jumped shots.
The Razorbacks were 3 of 22, including 0-8 on three-pointers and 1 of 10 on jump shots inside the arc, before Gafford finally took his first shot and scored on a driving basket.
"I thought we settled a lot," Anderson said of the flurry of perimeter shots. "We actually could have attacked them a lot more.
"We did in the second half, and I thought that's why you saw us scoring a little bit more."
The way Arkansas lost to LSU -- and trailed 41-21 at halftime -- was reminiscent of Vanderbilt's 72-59 victory at Walton Arena last season when the Razorbacks shot 7 of 28 in the first half in falling behind 39-18.
The Razorbacks responded to the Vanderbilt loss by winning eight of their next nine games.
"Our confidence is still up," Barford said. "We've got six seniors that have been here before. The same thing happened last year and we ended up going on a winning streak.
"We've just got to keep pushing, keep our head up. We can't just dwell on three losses, because it's a long year. We've got a lot more games to go."
ARKANSAS MEN VS. MISSOURI
WHEN 5 p.m. Saturday WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville. RECORDS Arkansas 11-5, 1-3 SEC; Missouri 12-4, 2-1.
SERIES Arkansas leads 25-22 TELEVISION ESPN2 RADIO Razorback Sports Network
Sports on 01/12/2018
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