Hogs experience 3-point woes in upset loss

Arkansas guard El Ellis (3) reaches to steal the ball Friday from UNC-Greensboro guard Keyshaun Langley (0) during the second half of the Razorbacks 78-72 loss in Bud Walton Arena. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- It was a case of too many 3-pointers for the University of Arkansas basketball team on Friday night.

Too many attempts and misses by the Razorbacks from beyond the arc and too many makes for visiting North Carolina-Greensboro.

The Spartans hit 9 of 24 3-pointers and the Razorbacks finished 4 of 23 as UNCG knocked off No. 14 Arkansas 78-72 in Walton Arena.

"You go 4 for 23 and the other team goes 9 of 24, you're not going to win the game," Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. "I mean, it's not going to happen."

Arkansas, which trailed by 15 points with less than 17:20 left, did a better job of attacking the basket in the second half, when the Razorbacks scored 48 points after UNCG led 38-24 at halftime.

The Razorbacks made 17 of 21 free throws in the second half and hit 14 of 28 shots, but were 3 of 13 on 3-pointers.

It took some hot shooting at the end for Arkansas to bring its 3-point shooting up to 17.4%.

Before the Razorbacks hit 3 of 6 3-pointers in the final 2:45 -- two by El Ellis and one by Trevon Brazile -- they were 1 of 17 and had missed 14 in a row after Khalif Battle's make with 14:10 left in the first half.

Musselman said the Razorbacks (3-1) didn't need to take so many 3-pointers considering the Spartans (2-1) don't block many shots.

UNCG had one blocked shot compared to six for the Razorbacks.

"Going to the rim was an issue in the first half," Musselman said.

Battle, who hit 8 of 13 3-pointers in the first three games, was 1 of 6 on Friday night. Brazile was 1 of 4 and Davonte Davis 0 of 4.

Ellis led the Razorbacks with 2-of-5 shooting on threes and scored 19 points, but had 4 turnovers.

Arkansas hit 27 of 67 3-pointers in its first three games (40.3%) before Friday night's struggles.

"I think we were just missing shots," said junior guard Tramon Mark, who led the Razorbacks with 21 points and hit 9 of 15 shots, but was 0 of 2 on 3-pointers. "We shoot the ball, I feel like, good in practice.

"We shoot a lot of shots. We work on it, so I just feel like they just weren't falling. We got a lot of good looks ... but we couldn't make enough shots and we couldn't get stops either."

UNCG senior guard Keyshaun Langley scored 23 points and hit 5 of 8 3-pointers to surpass the Razorbacks' total by himself.

"Good player," Mark said. "Can shoot it from anywhere. Can get in the paint. Can pass."

Mikeal Brown-Jones, 6-8 senior, scored 17 points for the Spartans and hit his only 3-point attempt. Tim Ceaser, a 6-9 senior forward from Marion, had 7 points and 4 rebounds off the bench and was 1 of 3 on 3-pointers.

"We just told our guys to stick together for 40 minutes," said Mike Jones, who is in his third season as UNCG's coach. "We've had some games where we played (well for) 25 minutes here, 30 minutes there, but never 40.

"And we just felt like if we could be ourselves, stick together and play for 40 minutes, we'd have a chance.

"Obviously that's an outstanding team on the other side of that court. We knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"Coach Musselman is such a great coach. What he's built here has been amazing."

Arkansas didn't get much from its post players because 6-10 Makhi Mitchell -- who had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the Razorbacks' 86-77 victory over Old Dominion on Monday night -- was limited by foul trouble and 6-10 Jalen Graham was sidelined by back spasms.

Mitchell had four fouls in eight minutes, hit his only shot and didn't have a rebound.

Brazile, a 6-10 sophomore, had 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for Arkansas. Battle scored 11 points and Davis 10.

The Razorbacks' last two opponents have combined to hit 20 of 48 3-pointers with Old Dominion going 11 of 24.

"Not getting close enough to guys," Musselman said of the defensive issues. "Not having enough desperation."

Musselman said defending the 3-point line was a focal point going into the UNCG game.

"It's up to us to fix it," he said. "We've got to get back to the drawing board, and we don't have much time before we play three real quality opponents in the Bahamas."

Arkansas' opener in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament is against Stanford (3-1) on Wednesday night.

The Cardinal beat Eastern Washington 95-70 on Friday night and hit 12 of 25 3-pointers.

"I think a job for our staff is if we're not doing things the way we need to, we have to make adjustments," Musselman said. "We can't keep doing the same thing, because every team's personality, every team's personnel strengths and weaknesses are different.

"I've got to come up with a little bit different scheme than what we've seen thus far. And we will.

"Whether it works or not, I don't know. We can ill-afford to continue playing (this way), whether it's pick-and-roll, whether it's chasing guys off screens, whether it's playing guys off isolations. We have to adjust, and we will starting (immediately after Friday night's game)."

Musselman said other than Arkansas' 81-77 exhibition victory over Purdue, the Razorbacks haven't defended well against dribble driving, which has led to more kick-outs for open threes.

"I think we're just too focused on getting blown by," Mark said. "The result is leading to threes.

"We haven't been guarding the dribble drive well, or we haven't been guarding the three well.

"It's just tough right now. We've got to figure it out."