FAYETTEVILLE - Though probably for his minutes he played both ends of the floor better than any of his teammates, Trey Thompson best described the Arkansas Razorbacks’ pitiful performance in Wednesday’s 75-54 SEC loss at Walton Arena to LSU.
“We just couldn't make shots,” the 6-9 senior reserve forward and Forrest City High grad from Madison said. “We didn't play no defense, either. So we helped them a lot. When you're not making shots, you've got to play defense to keep it close. We got in a hole and we couldn't dig ourselves out.”
That’s how Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson saw it at the time and how we would see it on tape and even during what apparently passed for a very brief night’s slumber.
“Obviously coming off a long night,” Anderson said. “Didn’t get much sleep.”
Just what happened upon review of the game tape of this now 11-5 overall/1-3 in the SEC team that started last week 11-2, 1-0 and ranked No. 22 in the country before successively losing 78-75 and 88-77 at Mississippi State and at Auburn and now blown out at home by the LSU Tigers and awaiting the Missouri Tigers’ Saturday 5 p.m. ESPN2 televised SEC visit to Walton?
“I think it started off that we didn’t make shots early on,” Anderson said. “I thought we rushed shots. And when you don’t make shots and you are rushing them also, that puts a lot of pressure on your defense. We had stops early in the game, but since LSU started attacking us and getting easy opportunities I thought our guys started pressing and it seemed like it was an uphill battle.”
An Arkansas team known for its energy, particularly at home and with the 11,818 attending doing their best to revive the Razorbacks at whatever slim rallies they mustered before and after Arkansas trailed, 41-21 at half, appeared mired in advanced energy crisis.
“I kept trying to get combinations out there to give us that energy level you’ve got to play with,” Anderson said. “Our energy level was not typical of how we play.”
After the disastrous down 47-30 at half at Auburn, Anderson preached the one hand helps the other aspects of defense on one end and offensively attacking inside-out.
That sermon seemed to fall on deaf ears Wednesday night at Walton.
LSU freshman point guard Tremont Waters, eight assists vs. two turnovers, penetrated Arkansas’ defense at will, it seemed while in the first half Arkansas freshman big man Daniel Gafford seldom touched the ball against LSU’s defense closing on him inside while other Razorbacks impatiently fired up first-half threes and missed their first nine.
The last two meltdowns during this now 3-game streak of SEC sorrow likely haunts those Arkansas fans remembering John Pelphrey’s 2008-2009 Razorbacks closing their nonconference campaign with huge wins at a packed Walton over fourth-ranked Oklahoma and seventh-ranked Texas and then laying a 2-14 egg for its SEC season.
However do recall that last season’s Razorbacks started 1-3 in the SEC and later would successively lose at Missouri to a 2-16 in the SEC Tigers team and then at home lose 72-59 to Vanderbilt.
Those 26-10 Hogs ultimately finished 12-6 in the SEC and as SEC Tournament finalists and went two rounds deep into the NCAA Tournament and had eventual national champion North Carolina on the ropes until the final minutes.
No guarantees of a similar resurgence forthcoming, but Anderson does have six seniors who were a part of that revival.
“I think you can try and draw from those experiences,” Anderson said. “I’m looking forward to our guys really improving upon the performance we had the other night. That was not a typical Razorback performance and we vow to make sure that people see the real Razorbacks play when we play Saturday.”