Auburn up next and will be no pushover.
FAYETTEVILLE - No doubt the Arkansas Razorbacks were victims of foul play in Tuesday night’s 78-75 SEC loss to Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.
Getting to the free throw line but 12 times and making just five compared to the victorious Bulldogs’ shooting 40 foul shot and hitting 24 unquestionably did in the Razorbacks at Humphrey Coliseum evens on a night that they shot 32 of 62 from the field compared to MSU’s 25 of 59.
“Very very disappointing,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said postgame in Starkville. “When I look at these stats the one that really sticks out is free throws. You want to be even or right there in the park with them.”
Statistically the Razorbacks played dead even on the boards, 39-39, but MSU’s 17 offensive rebounds induced foul after foul and a 16-9 edge in second chance points.
“Rebounding we were even with them,” Anderson said. “But those offensive rebounds, they were really critical. I thought that was the big difference in this game going down the stretch. But give credit to Mississippi State. It was a game that we had a chance to really pull away, we just didn’t do all the things we’ve got to do. We had some miscues and turnovers and not running the plays that we were trying to run to get to the free throw line and stop the clock.”
In the final 1:38, Arkansas took a 75-72 lead on Jaylen Barford’s 3-pointer but MSU’s Quinndary Weatherspoon tied it 75-75 with a trey at 1:20.
Barford was called for a pushing off with his arm turnover while with the ball depriving Arkansas the chance to go ahead at :58.
MSU big man Abul Ado hit a big jumper at :39 putting the Bulldogs up 77-75.
Barford missed a shot that Nick Weatherspoon, the freshman point guard younger brother of junior shooting guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, rebounded and got to his brother who was fouled with 21 seconds left and hit 1 of 2 free throws.
Arkansas senior guard Daryl Macon 33 points in the 95-95 overtime SEC opening victory over Tennessee last Saturday at Walton Arena and a game-high 24 points in Starkville, made a move to attempt toward attempting a game-tying three but was called for traveling.
Nick Weatherspoon, giving Arkansas a chance, missed two free throws that would have clinched it at :06 but Anton Beard’s buzzer try at for a tie was off the mark and the 22nd-ranked Hogs fell to 11-3 overall, 1-1 in the SEC in their first game cracking the AP’s Top 25.
The Spoons, Quinndary Weatherspoon, a game-high 25 points when Coach Ben Howland’s Bulldogs beat Arkansas last season at Walton, and Nick Weatherspoon, proved spoonfuls that Arkansas couldn’t handle in Starkville. Each scored 22 points with Quinndary netting seven rebounds and three steals and Nick four rebounds and two steals.
The turnover margin, most times in Arkansas’ favor, was best handled by Mississippi State committing seven turnovers to Arkansas’ 13 and outscoring Arkansas a critical 16-9 off miscues.
Ironically, Arkansas did some things much better in the loss at Starkville than the Hogs had done beating the then 19th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in Fayetteville including dishing 17 assists to just nine against Tennessee.
Also, Mississippi State controlled first-half tempo leading 32-28 at intermission but Arkansas controlled a faster pace taking an 8-point lead in the second half before faltering at the finish.
“We had 17 assists and that’s more like our basketball team,” Anderson said. “ We shot the ball well. We shared the ball well. You look at the things that were taking place here, we did everything but win the game. But the stat that hurts in my mind are those second chance points where we fouled and put them on the line. There are a lot of little things that we’ve got to clean up and get better at and learn how to finish on the road. We just didn’t finish and we were right there.”
It might seem that the Razorbacks’ road gets easier visiting the Auburn Tigers Saturday whom Arkansas is 5-0 against at Auburn, Ala. dating back to Coach John Pelphrey’s final 2010-2011 season followed by Anderson’s Razorbacks winning at Auburn in 2012.
Think again. Coach Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers have won 11 consecutively including opening SEC play Tuesday night upsetting the now No. 23 Tennessee Vols, 94-88 at Tennessee in Knoxville.