Favorite

Postseason purgatory 

What else can you say and/or write about this Arkansas Razorback basketball team? Senior Night cuts both ways, boys. Enjoy your own all you must, but be mindful of those vibes the last home game gives the host, lest you be bullied by a far inferior team.

The Hogs were on cruise control at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night, and jammed in reverse three days later at Tuscaloosa, Ala. The end result of the week is the same postseason purgatory that this team's been drifting in and out of for weeks, but temporally things went against the Razorbacks. You simply cannot end your regular season losing by 25 points (and let's be honest, it was even uglier than that final margin suggested) to a very poor, sub-.500 team. You especially can't do that after being a darling of sorts for a few weeks, having strung together several quality wins and just finished off a fading but still-respectable Ole Miss squad by 30 (and let's be honest, it was even uglier than that final margin suggested). A 55-point swing within conference play is unheard of, and it's undeniably damning when the last loss is (a) the 10th one of the season and (b) the last thing a tournament selection committee sees before the conference championships get underway.

Arkansas was a veritable cruise missile against Ole Miss, canning all manner of shots from all over the court. Anthlon Bell, damn near rendered useless only a few games ago, pumped in a career-best 23 and grinned broadly after his sixth and seventh threes went down. The 110-point output was the highest-scoring SEC game for the Hogs ... EVER.

Arkansas was a feeble little county fair slingshot against Alabama, tossing balls everywhere but into the cylinder. Bell was scoreless. The 16 points the team managed in the first 20 minutes was a season-low for a half, and it looked even worse than it was because Bama was firing in long-range daggers and streaking through the paint with abandon.

It's hard to fathom that I even wrote the previous two paragraphs within the same column, but it's a function of Arkansas having its best and worst games of this frenzied season within 72 hours of each other. This is what we're riding in March, folks. You don't know if Thursday will be the last time we see any of these guys for six months, or if we'll be bawling tears of joy later in the month because they've gathered themselves and scrapped toward some kind of storybook finish. After they upended Kentucky at Rupp and then after they summarily pounded Georgia and Ole Miss for nearly 200 combined points, the Hogs more closely resembled a miracle in the offing rather than a collapse in progress.

Fittingly, the league tourney, long a bedeviler of this program, grants a redemption opportunity that actually must be cashed if Arkansas wants to find itself among the NCAA field of 68. And there's a couple of things that happened Saturday that may have helped make the tank job at Coleman Coliseum irrelevant, both on the same court: Tennessee thumped Mizzou, which cemented the Vols as the SEC fourth seed ahead of Arkansas regardless of how the Bama debacle played out; and by losing, Missouri dipped to a pedestrian 9-9 in the standings, negating the impact of their season sweep of the Hogs. What this does is give the Hogs a de facto catbird seat for the first two days of the SEC tourney: They get a Wednesday bye, then take on the winner of Auburn vs. South Carolina in a 2:30 p.m. (CDT) game Thursday. The draw could be worse, and what it may lead to is a genuinely decisive Friday matchup against that very Volunteers squad.

 If this matchup materializes, it's got the potential of being a true winner-take-all scenario. The Vols got roughly as hot as the Hogs did late in the year, and therefore both are pecking away at what everyone agrees is the last of the SEC's few tourney bids. Tennessee's got one of the season's most impressive wins, a 35-point drubbing of ACC champ Virginia, but also lost twice to Texas A&M. The Hogs hold the distinction of being the only SEC team other than Florida to win multiple games against a Top 25 foe this season, and they also played Florida better than anybody did the last two months, but that bruise Bama dealt isn't likely to totally fade fast. Add the rematch factor, too, because Arkansas led the Vols for long stretches of their matchup on Jan. 22 in Knoxville, only to let Tennessee end the game on a 26-11 run en route to an 81-74 win.

The Hogs can't permit a duplication of that collapse in Atlanta, regardless of what day or opponent it may be.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Arkansas Razorbacks

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    July 20, 2017
    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions? /more/
  • Hawgball prospects

    March 30, 2017
    The sting of the "Grifters in Greenville" incident having finally dissipated somewhat, I am prepared to assess Razorback basketball anew. /more/
  • Tourney time

    March 16, 2017
    Selection Sunday hasn't been a meaningful day very often in recent years for Arkansas. Over the span of a decade, the Hogs knew they were safely within the expanded 68-team field only three times. /more/
  • Hogs going dancing

    March 9, 2017
    Even in a week where a modest winning streak went by the wayside at Gainesville, Arkansas authored one more earnest surge toward an NCAA Tournament berth that not long ago seemed beyond its grasp. /more/
  • Momentum

    February 23, 2017
    Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion. /more/
  • Critical stretch

    January 19, 2017
    The minute you take a shine to an Arkansas Razorback team is almost assuredly the same minute you have your sanity tested. /more/
  • Solidly second tier

    January 12, 2017
    It only makes sense that in this numbing era of Razorback slip-and-falls, the Hogs could really put vaunted Kentucky to the test at Rupp Arena for a good 30 minutes of action ... and end up losing by 26 points. /more/
  • Changes needed

    January 5, 2017
    Those who have read this column with some degree of regularity know that I've held fast to the belief that Bret Bielema can and will revive the Arkansas football program. /more/
  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    December 8, 2016
    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte. /more/
  • Woeful

    December 1, 2016
    On Thanksgiving night, Bret Bielema could settle into his bed knowing that after a rather miserable 2013 inauguration, he had slipped comfortably into his job and the results were bearing some small but edible fruits for this ravenous fan base. He was only 25-24, but 18-10 with two bowl wins over his last 28 contests, a smattering of takedowns of ranked teams, and a stabilized roster that showed off the staff's endeavors to enlist and develop a caliber of player that would lead to better days ahead in a rugged conference. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions?
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Basketball prospects

    While it is a little difficult to prognosticate on anything pertaining to college basketball anymore, short of the blue bloods getting bluer every recruiting season, what has happened to Arkansas since it finished off an accomplished 2016-17 campaign is probably as subtly bewildering as any offseason machinations you'll see.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Summer hopes

    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The edge of night

    • The eclipse would be the perfect time to place the holy goat on the Capitol…

    • on July 27, 2017
  • Re: The edge of night

    • I would hate to plan on a site only to find it cloudy or raining…

    • on July 25, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation