Musselman says Hoop Hogs need to be ‘much more competitive’ #Musselman #Hoop #Hogs #competitive #englishheadline


After Arkansas’ third straight loss by double-digits Saturday, head coach Eric Musselman said his team is lacking its competitive nature. After taking an 8-point lead into halftime, the Razorbacks surrendered 63 second half points to Vanderbilt on their way to a 97-84 loss at the Commodores.

The loss marked the most points allowed by the Hogs all year, and their lowest adjusted defensive efficiency rating (141.1) of the season.

“I mean, we’ve lost three straight games by double digits,” Musselman said. “I don’t recall a team we’ve coached doing that unless it was at the NBA level. Disappointed with the competitiveness. Disappointed with when a team make a run, combating that run. But again, we have a whole group of guys that’s learning, and we’re trying to learn as well.”

After last Wednesday’s loss to Alabama, Musselman said his team is in a “completely and utterly different state” than it was the past two seasons, when they started with a losing record in conference play and eventually advanced to the Elite Eight both years.

Musselman was disappointed with his team’s lack of steals after the 84-69 loss to Alabama, and he said the game plan hadn’t changed going into the game. He said the game plan going into the matchup with Vanderbilt was to limit junior guard Tryin Lawrence’s dribble drives to the left, but the team didn’t execute that.

“I thought we didn’t defend the three,” Musselman said. “I thought No. 0 Lawrence dominated us off the dribble. The scouting report was no dribble drives left, and he continually went left and blew by us. Taking away the three was what we discussed the last three days, and they made 10 threes. Rebounding the ball was extremely important. We did not rebound the ball defensively like we felt we should. Just a poor second half.”

Lawrence led the Commodores with 22 points in the contest, and he was 2 for 2 from three.

Saturday’s game marked just the sixth time this season that Arkansas averaged less than 70 possessions during the 40-minute matchup. Vanderbilt’s 55.6% shooting from three was the highest percentage of any Arkansas opponent on the year.

The high percentage from three for the Commodores looks worse when 3-point defense was an emphasis for the Hogs coming out of halftime.

“I feel like we’re more locked in onto it after coming out of half because Coach just said that coming out of halftime,” Ricky Council IV said. “We’d been talking about it the whole day, the whole day before, about the three. We’re locked into it. And then obviously we had a good first half then they come out and hit one then hit another, their 5 man hits one. It’s obviously tough. Now it’s definitely a common theme. Alabama did the same thing, but take away those, we win the game.”

Arkansas started 2-3 in conference play each of the past two seasons, but this year it is 1-4 after five games. Without their two best players — Nick Smith Jr. (knee) and Trevon Brazile (torn ACL) — the Razorbacks are going to need to see some sort of change in the lineup, leadership and competitiveness.

“You’ve gotta play hard, you’ve gotta keep the guy in front of you, you’ve gotta defend at a high level,” Musselman said. “The staff’s gotta do a better job, I guess, as well, across the board.”

With 13 conference games left to play and a non-conference game at Baylor sprinkled in, there is still plenty of time for the Razorbacks to turn the page and make a run. As of now, KenPom projects the Hogs to win nine of their last 14 games and finish with a .500 record in conference play.

Arkansas will hit the hardwood again Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT against the Missouri Tigers. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network inside Mizzou Arena.

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