Behind The Athletic paywall, so I’ll take parts of what he said (this was part of his top-10 power rankings, which he extended to the Hogs at #11).
Man, is there anything like a good Maui Invitational game? … Creighton and Arkansas served up a whopper Tuesday night.
Creighton won, 90-87, and thus advanced to the final round of the Maui bracket, but the game was so high-level and well-played that it did nothing to diminish either team’s reputation.
Arkansas … is young and new and occasionally looks like it, though mostly the Razorbacks just look really good. They did lose their heads a few times Tuesday night, somewhat understandably so, and from the top on down — coach Eric Musselman and his staff were as angry at the refs as any of their players, and that frustration was visible and not necessarily helpful down the stretch. Musselman’s staff was T’d up at one point, which sent things into a tizzy, but a series of calls in the second half had Musselman in a full lather well before the final whistle.
(Muss) should rest easy. His Arkansas team thrives on its youth and its new faces. Its best players (save Devo Davis) are all either freshmen or transfers. Anthony Black might have been the best player on the floor Tuesday — he had 26 points, six rebounds, six assists and a crazy amount of rounded-out talent — and he was starting his fifth college game. Arkansas had a few tough calls here and there, sure, but it also got a bit sped up, a bit too eager to impress. OK, yes, Creighton is attacking you in transition. Take it easy. Everybody doesn’t need to run at the ball and try to make a play all at once. Deep breaths, guys.
But Arkansas looks awesome. Super talented, deep, capable of going toe to toe with team like Creighton putting up 90 points in 78 trips, with a rotation that looks like Musselman already knows what he wants … and all of it coming before star freshman guard Nick Smith Jr., the putative gem of all of those newcomers, even takes the floor.
Last season, Arkansas needed nearly two months to figure out what it was, and how good it could be, before it became one of the nation’s best teams. Imagine where this group, with this much talent and this high of a floor already, will be by then. Phew.