Woo Pig Phooey: Hogs falter, fall to LSU
Posted Saturday, March 7, 2015, at 4:44 PM
Five Razorbacks scored in double figures, but it wasn't enough to hold off a hungry LSU squad.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas (24-7, 13-5) concluded their regular season today at Bud Walton Arena with a resounding thud, as the Hogs laid an egg in front of a sold out crowd. LSU (22-9) seemingly played their way off of the proverbial NCAA bubble with their shocking 81-78 upset over the Razorbacks.
Giving the credit solely to the Tigers is to ignore and feign ignorance on the part of the players and coaching staff this afternoon. It's quite simple, and everyone knows how the Hogs win, but you have to get the ball to sophomore sensation Bobby Portis. He should touch the ball every offensive possession that he is on the floor.
Naysayers and the utterly obtuse Hog fan will argue that Portis had a double-double, scoring 21 points and snatching 15 rebounds. But he could have done so much more, which includes leading the squad to victory, if not for some boneheaded possessions peppered throughout the second half.
There were over a dozen instances in the second stanza alone in which Bobby Portis had to sit and watch, as other players tried to score without the big guy even having touched the ball. Bottom line: Portis should always get a touch on the offensive end!
This allows him to either score the basket or find a wide open man to make the play. Sadly, time and time again, Portis only touched the ball when attacking the glass and pulling down 10 offensive rebounds.
Notwithstanding the negligence of his teammates, Portis and the Razorbacks were still in the ballgame despite trailing for most of the second half. Senior Alandise Harris gave the Hogs their first lead of the second half with 3:32 to play on a pair of free throws, 71-70.
Junior Michael Quall's dunk, with 2:55 left, gave the Hogs a 73-70 advantage. But with 59 seconds left to play, Arkansas watched as LSU's Jalyn Patterson sank yet another deep three-pointer to tie the game 78-78.
On the Hogs next possession, Harris tried to make a difficult layup over two defenders, instead of passing the ball to a wide open Portis under the basket. LSU got the rebound and the final shot.
The Razorbacks' bad decision-making prowess was about to catch up with them.
With no time remaining on the clock, "Little Jack Horner" aka Keith Hornsby, a 3-point specialist, sank a deep 3 to win the game and stab a dagger into the hearts of Hog fans everywhere. The final score: 81-78 in favor of the Tigers.
Four other Hogs scored in double figures along with Portis. Qualls had 15 points, Rashad Madden and Anthlon Bell both contributed 12 points each and Harris finished with 10 points.
Jarell Martin led the Tigers with 27 points and seven rebounds, while Jalyn Patterson flanked him with 20 points and six rebounds. Hornsby had 13 points, including the game-winning shot.
Now, Arkansas has been flirting with disaster for weeks now. Since their 56-57 loss to Florida, at the O Dome, the Razorbacks have won nine of their last 10 games, despite dancing on the razor's edge.
Five of the Hogs last seven games could have just as easily been losses: a one-point victory at Ole Miss, a four-point victory at Mississippi State, a six-point win against Texas A&M, a four-point victory at South Carolina and today's three-point fiasco against LSU.
Yes, Arkansas is now winning the tough, close games under coach Mike Anderson for the most part. However, the Razorbacks are showing a great deal of fatigue, particularly on offense, setting in, as the postseason approaches. The remedy: a steady diet of Bobby Portis. This will alleviate some of the pressure on the perimeter and increase productivity be creating more scoring opportunities around the basket.
If the Hogs can get back to feeding the big man, Arkansas should thrive in Nashville at the SEC Tournament next week. A good showing in Music City, despite winning or losing to undefeated No. 1 Kentucky (31-0, 18-0) in the championship game, could propel the Hogs all the way to a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But, if the Razorbacks continue to ignore their meal ticket, especially in the crunch, look for the Hogs to bow out early next week. And a one-and-done scenario in the SEC tourney could drop Arkansas all the way to a No. 8 seed, which means a match-up with that regions No. 1 overall seed in the second game. This could spell doom for the team and destroy any chances of the squad reaching the Sweet Sixteen.
FYI: The last Arkansas team to reach the second weekend of play was the 1995-1996 squad led by freshmen Kareem Reid and Pat Bradley -- 19 years ago. That team, sporting a record of 18-12, slipped into the tourney as a 12 seed. Their Cinderella run ended at the hands of Marcus Camby and No. 1 UMASS in the Sweet 16. Ironically, that team was coached by none other than UK head coach John Calipari.
UP NEXT: Arkansas begins play as the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament this Friday.