5 Observations from Arkansas-Texas

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Sorry, no video. Computer is acting up and I’m in a hotel in Houston. Video will be back Tuesday.

— Macon played aggressive and got to the line a ton, which is where Arkansas won the game. Averaged 10 free throws a game in JUCO last year and said he came into the game wanting to get back to playing more like that. That can only be a good thing. He’s got a knack for crafty finishes around the rim to get his shot off. He and Dusty are both shooting 90+ percent from the line and Arkansas leads the SEC (10th nationally) at 79 percent, which would be a school record (77.6 in 1961-62).

— The FT performance saved a less-than-stellar showing by the halfcourt offense. Hogs shot just 35.5 percent and had a lot of stagnant possessions that led to late-clock forced shots. Texas’ length and athleticism seemed to really bother Arkansas. From the observations: To be clear, earning the win despite the shooting woes was an impressive display of grit. The Razorbacks have a good collection of offensively gifted players. There are signs the roster is gelling and players are growing more accustomed to playing off of one another, but Saturday was a step backward in that regard.

— Defense was solid for the most part. Texas hasn’t put it all together yet, but has some talented pieces. Jaylen Barford had some nice defensive work on the final play of the game. Two straight games with a defense rating of less than 100.

— The Moses-Jarrett Allen matchup was very intriguing to me. Wrote about it for a sidebar for Sunday’s paper, too. Allen has elite length (7-6 wingspan?!) and is one of the only bigs who’s probably more athletic than Moses. He’s projected to go No. 21 in the 2017 draft by DraftExpress. Outplayed Moses by a wide margin in the first half, but Moses bounced back in the second and scored seven points, had four rebounds and three blocks after halftime. Had five blocks total, including some straight-up vicious rejections. His rim protection can’t be undersold.

— Arlando Cook played well and was big down the stretch while closing in place of a struggling Dustin Thomas. Cook scored all six of his points in the final 4:33, including hitting four really big free throws. He was a team-best +17 in 17 minutes as part of a bench mob that continues to steamroll opponents. Outscored Texas 30-4. Cook played within himself but still with his typical high energy. Solid performance that will perhaps pave the way for some more consistent/bigger minutes.

Thanks Jimmy, excellent observations.

Maybe I’m just hypersensitized to it, but it seems like Arkansas has a lot of players who are not thinking “shoot” even though they might be standing outside the arc and catching the ball. The Hogs had quite a few possessions where they pass-pass-passed themselves into bad shots late in the shot clock.

Good stuff.
BTW who is Jimmy Carter? The X-President? LOL
Actually I’ve been a member here awhile.
Having said that who are these reporters or writers with nick names.
FOR years people have been posting and everyone seems to know who these people are. Not me
Would some answer here or E-mail me (PM) if this is top secret information.

Thanks if anyone would help me out here…

Mike Tucker

None of the Whole Hog Sports staff on here are using nicknames or board aliases. Clay, Richard, Jimmy, Matt, Dudley. Anybody else may have some useful information, but they’re not reporters on the WHS staff.

Our schedule has been light on defense. I’m not surprised that we struggled a lot against a lot of rangy, long defenders that are well coached, especially after finals week on the road. See the Mercer performance last season. This team appears to have enough offensive talent to figure it out, though. Some things can’t be learned in practice by the players or coaches. They will have to work it out from game experience.

Just kidding Jimmy. Just playing off the “Macon answers Hannahs challenge” story. You were a bit hard on Cook during the preseason.

But seriously, good job with the observations. Spot on.

Now we just need our big men to start playing like Macon around the rim. I’m not sure our guards can get to the line like that against teams that have more than one Allen type bigs, but we won’t play too many like that. still if we get all our biggins going to the rim like that, as moses did in the second half, woooo watch out.

cook earned more opportunities, trey too. give me those two with Moses playing like they did in the second half all day and we have a chance against anybody in March (that is cliche but true every year, just hasn’t been for us in a long time)

Agreed - the offense will be pretty strong when more players start taking shots they should take, instead of passing off. Texas did not have to guard perimeter players very closely to scare them out of shooting.

How many teams do you think there are in America with 2 guys like Allen? There aren’t many and I don’t believe we play any of them in the regular season.

Yeah, Beard for one passed up some shots because he wasn’t looking for the trey opportunity after the swing pass. Players had to be thinking shot. If they weren’t, Texas had too much length to hesitate.

I, for one, am glad that the game plan from the start appeared to be to drive the ball and get to the line.

All too often we lose on the road because we shoot too many 3s, even on days like yesterday when we weren’t hitting shots.

Our advantage yesterday and most days is going to be sharing the ball, taking and hitting the best shots available and being aggressive in order to get to the line and then converting.

It worked. We scored 47 in the second half and were humming when we drove and kicked or drove and got to the line.

We struggled when we took quick 3s and settled the way they wanted us to do.

I agree. That is the recipe to win on the road. The other way you have to have an exceptional shooting day/night to win and that is an exception to the rule on the road. That is why I like the guards we have right now. They all are looking to drive. I hope they have discovered the recipe and cook that again next time on the road.

The other thing is that with the way the game is officiated now, if you get a step on your guy, and most of our guards do, as long as you don’t overoenetrate and draw a charge, they’re gonna call a foul on the defense.

It’s akin to PI football, anymore. There’s just no reason not to take several shots down the field or in this case to drive the ball to the rim and make the refs make calls.

Ha! He played really well, which they needed given that Dustin struggled away from home again. They did a lot of switching and he was able to do a reasonably decent job at it.

He took a good deal of bad shots and stopped the ball fairly frequently in July. I think he’s about 2-15 on mid-range jumpers this year. But he’s done a nice job otherwise, especially lately. I really like his motor. He competed extremely hard in practice in July/August.

Been impressed with how active he is defensively. Really good at helping and then recovering to his man and making the right rotations. They probably don’t win Saturday without him stepping up down the stretch.

FYI, I tweeted a few photos/videos as I went back and charted the game. Didn’t add to the story because it’s a day later and takes quite a while to upload to YouTube and then embed on this site.

But after seeing it a second time, I thought they really played well defensively most of the game. Texas has some really nice pieces but didn’t get a lot of easy looks in the halfcourt. Switched the PNR a lot and held up pretty well. One of their better games as far as man defense. Gave up some open looks out of the zone.

Offensively, they moved the ball better in the second half, but there’s still a lot of congestion that seems like it stems from guys just not playing well off of each other. At times, you’ll have an action like a ball screen taking place on one side of the court, but someone on the other side is curling off a pin down screen at the same time and getting in the way of the ballhandler. Or they’ll run a PNR but have someone on the strongside wing bringing an extra defender into the picture and making it tough for the ballhandler to do anything with it. The court is just often more cramped than it needs to be and the freedom allowed within the offense can lead to cluttered possessions if they aren’t on the same page.

A lot of times, they’ll pass the ball around and cut off the screens but it won’t amount to much. Resulted in a lot of one-on-one off the bounce stuff, some of which worked but obviously a lot didn’t. This team obviously has some talented offensive players and multiple guys who can make plays off the bounce, but they need to continue to improve in how they play as a collective so they’ll make it easier on themselves when the game slows down. They’d taken some steps forward going into the game, I thought.

Anton didn’t shoot great, but he did a lot of little things really well. Had a heady steal (that he didn’t get credit for) when he jumped the entry pass to a big on a switch, created looks for others on a few really nice takes in the second half and had a few offensive rebounds. Smallest guy in the rotation and he’s second on the team in offensive rebounding. Great nose for the ball. Hogs were +16 with him in the game for a reason.

The degree of difficulty on Jaylen Barford’s finishes is routinely pretty high, but he’s so strong and thick in his upper body that he can pull it off.

Mike tends to call some nice out-of-timeout plays. In the first half, they had a nice double high ball screen for I think Barford with the two guards in the corners that morphed into a stagger screen for Macon, who got fouled. Macon’s will to get to the rim as much as he did was huge.

Thought Moses played a heck of a game in every aspect aside from scoring. Got rebounds, got on the floor for steals and had some just nasty blocks. Allen is a heck of a prospect.

All in all, not a great performance by any stretch but still highly impressive that they were able to gut out a win away from home while shooting 35.5 percent. That kind of foul shooting will be huge in close games if they keep it up.

Agree with every bit of this.

If the Hogs had anyone who was +16, that begs a ton more questions.

I remember one possession where both Arkansas post players (don’t remember who was in the game at the time) set up for screens at the free throw line. At the same time. Was wondering whether that was planned. Didn’t produce anything.

Anyway - The improvements on defense are very good to see.

I was wondering the same thing. Two guys with 7-6 wing span? That would be in the NBA. That guy is a freak.

Agree with the offense assesment Jimmy. I think a lot of the cramped spaces on the floor and low assist numbers come from not using their big man appropriately. Moses is not a threat for anything at the top of the key, and he often clogs things up running to that spot so often when other guys out there already. He can’t even make a good pass from there (not as well as the other guys on the floor). He is a great post passer though. He does so many things well from the post. It really opens the floor up when he is on the post or rolling hard to the post. He should never (want to) catch the ball beyond the arc period. But he spends a lot of time doing just that catching and holding the ball or traveling trying to go off the catch and dribble drive. He should want to get that ball down low as possible, preferably while his momentum is going to the rim as well. Dude is a freak athlete, and you can tell he is getting frustrated, time he just unleashes it on the rim!

Still they are all figuring this out every game a little more. Interesting to hear the espn commentators about the second half improvement sharing the ball, and this is how Mike wants to play, and watch out for Arkansas is we are sharing the ball and getting the easier open buckets. I liked the second half, we still weren’t shooting great, but we didn’t have to since we were shooting free throws) I think we could have shot better in second half if we had to because that is exactly how you get your shot back, by making free throws. We made some clutch shots too. Really I loved the second half considering it was ugly, that ugliness was mainly because they put us in the bonus like 5 minutes into the half.

If we put two halfs like that together, we can catch an elite eight team on any given day on a neutral court. I really believe that. The Allen kid might be the best seven footer in the country by the end of the year, idk. But I’m talking about a few elite squads with multiple allen-esque size guys, when we will need to make a lot of open shots and have Moses, Trey, Dustin, Adrio playing above the rim. We are getting there, but it is going to be a big challenge.

We need Moses to get mean. I mean look up these rosters! Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, UCLA, Louisville, Oregon, Florida, Baylor