FAYETTEVILLE -- A change of venue nearly always helps coach Mike Anderson's Arkansas Razorbacks, but it did not help them one bit Wednesday night.
Arkansas' first half Wednesday was even more dreadful than when the Razorbacks (11-5, 1-3) trailed Auburn (15-1, 3-0) by 17 at intermission in last Saturday's 88-78 Southeastern Conference loss at Auburn, Ala. Despite playing at Bud Walton Arena, Arkansas trailed the LSU Tigers (11-4, 2-1), 41-21, at the break en route to an embarrassing 75-54 SEC defeat, their first home loss of the season.
The loss marked the third consecutive SEC loss for Arkansas as it prepares to host Missouri (12-4, 2-1) in Saturday's 5 p.m. SEC game at Bud Walton Arena.
"We typically play with a lot more intensity at this place here," Anderson said. "But when you don't make shots ..."
Other than Adrio Bailey hitting 1 of 2 free throws at 19:37 for the game's first point, the Razorbacks never led. They were down 19-5 at 12:30, and fading fast, and trailed by as much as by 24 during a half when they struggled to hit 6 of 33 from the field, 18 percent.
"First, let me congratulate LSU coming in and doing what they had to do," Anderson said. "They came in and caught us real flat. We came out and couldn't make any baskets early on. I think we started off on the free throw line and went 1-0, and after that it just seemed like there was a lid on the basket.
"A lot of times, our defense generates our scoring and getting back into our defense, but it was one of those nights. You shoot 18 percent from the field, you are going to get these kind of results."
Arkansas shot 13 of 24 for the second half, but it was too little, too late, especially after LSU big man Aaron Epps, who led the Tigers with a 13 point and 11 rebound double-double, hit a 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim before dropping in to kick off an 11-0 run after Arkansas cut a 21-point lead to 12.
"Epps hit a three that kind of came out and went back in," Arkansas senior guard Jaylen Barford said. "He hit a dagger."
Arkansas' little comeback balloon burst before the eyes of the 11,818 that tried both halves to revive their slumping Hogs.
"We had gained some momentum, and he makes a big, big shot and kind of takes the air out of the lid," Anderson said, mimicking the sound of a tire going flat. "Before you knew it, I think we missed a shot, and they go down and score again, so that 12 turns into like 15 or 17. They answered the call."
Plenty of Tigers answered the call with starting guard Skylar Mays and reserve guard Randy Onwuasor scoring 12 each, while starting big man Duop Reath scored 11 with six rebounds and two shot-blocks. Freshman point guard Tremont Waters, LSU's leading scorer for the season, only scored eight points.
Yet, at 5-11, Waters played huge. He dished out eight assists against two turnovers and grabbed five rebounds.
"I thought Tremont did a good job of orchestrating getting everybody involved," Anderson said.
Barford led all scorers with 17 points, but required 15 shots to do it. Senior guard Daryl Macon, who is normally one of the Razorbacks high scorers, connected on 2 of 7 from the field for nine points.
"We got fortunate tonight, and it kind of snowballed," Wade said, noting the Tigers can expect Arkansas to be at peak level when they rematch Feb. 3 in Baton Rouge, La.
"We played about as well as we could play. They've got two great guards. They've got (6-11 El Dorado freshman Daniel) Gafford, who is a phenomenal big guy. And (Arkansas senior guard Anton) Beard can play. They've got a great team."
Anderson stressed throughout the week the Hogs' need to attack inside-out, but it seemed his players thought they could jump start their team with jump shots. Their jumpers didn't reach ignition. They hit 1 of 11 attempted first half treys and were shooting 2-for-11 and seldom seemed to be looking for Gafford while firing awry from outside.
"They were packing their defense inside, and I thought we kind of settled (for jumpers), Anderson said. "I thought we could have attacked them a lot more, and we did in the second half. And in that first half we had some open looks but didn't make them."
The stunned crowd did the best it could to rally their Hogs, erupting when Barford hit Arkansas' lone first-half three, upping Arkansas to a still huge 36-19 deficit at 3:20. Only 29 seconds later, the crowd slumped back to their seats when Gafford was charged with his third foul.
Arkansas committed just two more miscues, 11-9, but was outscored 15-6 on turnovers and 29-17 on bench points. Senior big man and Forrest City graduate Trey Thompson, eight points and six boards, did have a nice 16 minutes subbing for Gafford.
"Their bench played well for them," Anderson said. "That was a big difference in this game."
Officiating certainly didn't beat Arkansas, but Anderson was disgruntled by some calls and got a late second-half technical foul after Barford was called for a charge.
"I thought it was more than just that call," Anderson said. "I thought there were a bunch of calls like that, and those were momentum calls. I have no idea why I had the technical. Maybe it got personal. I don't know."Sports on 01/12/2018
Print Headline: Return home not enough for Hogs, fall to LSU