Some Hard Truths in the Wake of Arkansas’ Ugly Exhibition Loss to Texas

Perhaps that whole no-TV idea was a good thing after all

Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas basketball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

The No. 10 Arkansas basketball program was back on the court Saturday afternoon in top-15 road exhibition game against the No. 12 Longhorns. It was expected to be a much tougher challenge than their 83-49 blowout of Division II Rogers State on Monday, and boy was it ever.

The Hogs got barbecued by 30 points in a loss that was reminiscent of a 31-point blowout road loss to Alabama in January 2021.

Although the game was originally scheduled to be air on the Longhorn Network, but news surfaced in the past week that it won’t be televised after all. That turned out to be good thing for some, however, since this was the kind of massacre no Razorback fan in her right mind would want to see.

Below you can read a detail account of the game, but before that let’s get into the some of the main takeaways:

Turnovers Persist

Arkansas entered the game knowing turnovers would be an area of concern after averaging 24.3 turnovers per game across their four-game European tour and their first exhibition vs Rogers State. This issue persisted in devastating fashion as they turned the ball over 23 times in their 30-point embarrassment to the Longhorns.

Nick Smith Jr. led the way with 4 turnovers, followed by 3 from Walsh and Johnson. Six other Hogs had at least one turnover. This goes to show that it is not one bad decision maker on the court, but rather an all-around lack of continuity on the offensive side of the ball.

While a “gel period” should be expected from a team with 11 new players – and also the youngest team Musselman has ever coached – 23 turnovers in a 30-point loss is never acceptable. A vast majority of the turnovers came on errant passes, several of which turned into easy fast break opportunities for the Longhorns. It’s reasonable to think that several of these mistakes will correct themselves as the players get more comfortable on a college court and within their own offense.

A backcourt consisting of two true freshmen should be expected to have growing pains, but this will be the glaring issue to watch as the regular season gets under way.

Losing the 3-point Battle on Both Sides of the Ball

Coming into this season, it was pretty clear that Arkansas was not going to be an elite 3-point shooting team. They shot an abysmal 30% from 3-point range last season and didn’t bring in many perimeter threats to fill that hole in the offense aside from Nick Smith Jr. and Joseph Pinion. The two freshmen combined to shoot 2-4 from 3-point range against the Longhorns. The rest of the Razorbacks combined to shoot 2-8 from long range.

Only attempting 12 3-pointers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Musselman clearly focused on the interior presence this offseason, bringing in four transfers standing 6’9” or taller to go along with four freshmen standing at least 6’6”. Shooting 33% from deep should actually be perceived as a positive considering how this team is constructed.

The bigger problem came on the other side of the ball. The Hogs’ calling card during the Musselman era has been stifling defense that makes up for their lack of perimeter shooting, especially last season. However, the Longhorns shot 54% from the field, including 62% from behind the arc, on their way to a 90-point performance.

Teams get hot. Players make contested shots. Allowing a team to shoot 10-16 from 3-point range and mount a 20-0 run should never happen against a defensive-minded team like Arkansas. The offensive side of the ball was always going to take, but this defensive performance – despite coming in an exhibition game that doesn’t count on any records – is cause for concern to say the least.

Give This Edition of Arkansas Basketball Time

Each of the last two seasons, Arkansas has found themselves on the wrong end of a multi-game losing streak. The European tour this offseason was theoretically supposed to help with those early season struggles, but perhaps the team is handling that as a different season entirely. This is a brand-new roster with a lot of young faces still adjusting to the college game, and let’s not forget that Texas was also ranked inside the Top 12.

This is in no way an excuse for losing by 30, but at the end of the day it’s one loss in an unofficial game where the only purpose from the start was to be a learning experience. Arkansas still has a lot of talent and a nationally acclaimed coach at the helm. There will be struggles, but it’s way too early to hit any panic buttons just yet.

Starting Lineups for Arkansas vs Texas

Anthony BlackTimmy Allen
Nick Smith JrDylan Disu
Jordan WalshMarcus Carr
Trevon BrazileDillon Mitchell
Jalen GrahamTyrese Hunter

Arkansas vs Texas First Half

17:20 1st Half | Arkansas 3 – 7 Texas

Texas opened the game with a contested three from Marcus Carr followed by a turnover credited to Trevon Brazile.

A missed layup from Brazile on the ensuing possession led to a ferocious jam from Dillon Mitchell. Nick Smith Jr. answered with a 3-pointer for the Hogs’ first points of the day.

Texas worked the ball inside off of an inbounds play to push their lead back up to 5.

15:45 1st Half | Arkansas 5 – 7 Texas

Makhi Mitchell was the first player of the bench for Arkansas replacing Jalen Graham.

Nick Smith Jr. found an opening in the paint to score his second basket of the day, cutting into the Texas lead. Arkansas forced a miss from Texas but immediately turned the ball over trying to make an outlet pass.

11:57 1st Half | Arkansas 12 – 14 Texas

Texas hit another tiple right out of the timeout to extend their lead. Ricky Council IV responded quickly by earning a trip to the foul line where he went 2-2. Arkansas applied solid defensive pressure on the ensuing possession that led to a charge taken by Kamani Johnson.

Smith found another opening coming off a ball screen to float him his third basket of the game, giving him 7 of the Razorbacks’ first 9 points. Texas answered with another close shot to extend their lead back to three. Brazile got his layup attempt emphatically blocked before Texas floated home another basket in the paint.

Brazile tried his luck at the rim again on the following possession and was rewarded with a basket and the foul. He converted the free throw to make it 14-12 Texas.

7:51 1st Half | Arkansas 18 – 22 Texas

Texas forced a 5-second violation on Arkansas’ inbound coming out of the timeout. A series of turnovers and missed shots from both teams ultimately have the ball back to another Texas 3-pointer with just under 11 minutes in the half.

A turnover from Brazile on the next possession led to Texas drawing a shooting foul on Anthony Black on a fast break, his second of the game. Texas went 1-2 at the line to extend their lead to 18-12.

Makhi Mitchell catches an entry pass off of a pick-and-roll before finishing the layup through contact with a foul. He missed the free throw, so the score remained 18-14.

Mitchell then committed a foul to send Texas back to the free-throw line on the other end. They went 2-2 at the stripe.

Devo Davis split the defense with an aggressive move to finish a lefty layup at the rim, but his aggression got the better of him on the other end as he committed a reach-in foul. Texas banked home a putback after an offensive rebound, but Makhi Mitchell answered with a layup of his own to cut the Texas lead down to four.

3:06 1st Half | Arkansas 28 – 31 Texas

Nick Smith Jr converted an And-1 opportunity to push him into double-digit scoring while also cutting the Texas lead to 22-21. Texas answered with another 3-pointer to regain their 4-point lead. On the ensuing possession, the Longhorns took advantage of another offensive rebound, their 9th of the game.

Council drew a foul in the backcourt after stealing a pass that put the Hogs in the bonus. He went 2-2 from the FT line.

Coming out of a timeout, Texas found another open opportunity in the paint and finished the floater. Makhi Mitchell answered on the other end by putting back his own miss to keep the Texas lead at four.

Mitchell was then fouled on the ensuing outlet pass, sending the big man to the free-throw line where he went 2-2. Texas finished a floater coming off of a ball screen on the other end.

End 1st Half | Arkansas 30 – 40 Texas

Council converted 1-2 at the charity stripe before Texas worked their way into a post score on the other end, extending their lead to five.

The Longhorns rattled off five in a row with a layup and 3-pointer in the midst of a pair of Makhi Mitchell misses. Jordan Walsh quickly answered with an acrobatic layup over a double-team on the other end.

Texas answered with an acrobatic finish of their own just before time expired to extend their lead back to 10.

Arkansas Halftime Stats

Arkansas vs Texas 2nd Half

18:40 2nd Half | Arkansas 30 – 44 Texas

Hogs start the half with a turnover on a moving screen followed by a Longhorn slam on the other end. A second turnover in the opening seconds of the half leads to another reverse layup from Texas. Timeout Eric Musselman.

15:28 2nd Half | Arkansas 35 – 54 Texas

Texas came out of the timeout and immediately earned an And-1 opportunity, which they converted to extend their lead to 17. Anthony Black responded with an up-and-under finish off of an offensive rebound for the Hogs. A Texas drive from the top of the key led to a dump-off pass and an open dunk for the Longhorns.

Kamani Johnson drew a foul on the other end after his pump-fake got two Longhorns jumping. He went 1-2 at the stripe. Devo Davis stole a long outlet pass from the Longhorns before lobbing it up to Smith for a layup.

Texas responded quickly with another 3-pointer, followed by drawing a foul on the ensuing fast break. They went 2-2 from the stripe.

12:05 2nd Half | Arkansas 35 – 69 Texas

Devo fouled a 3-point jump-shooter following another Arkansas turnover. The Longhorns went 3-3 from the line. Arkansas’ 17th turnover then leads to a floater on the other end, followed quickly by pair of 3-pointers from the Longhorns to extend their lead to 30.

Texas hit a pull-up jumper following a missed shot from Council, followed by another Razorback turnover leading to a wide-open fast break dunk for the Longhorns.

7:08 2nd Half | Arkansas 45 – 74 Texas

Jordan Walsh ends a 20-0 run with a baseline jump shot. He then slammed home a dunk off of an inbounds play before stripping the ball from a Longhorn ball handler on the other end. Kamani Johnson finished a fast break layup on the ensuing possession to extend the Razorback run to 6-0.

Texas drew a foul on the other end and went 2-2 at the stripe, but Walsh answered quickly with another fast break layup.

After a 1-2 trip to the free-throw line from Texas, Joseph Pinion made a good back-door cut that opened him up for a wide-open layup. Texas responded with a made jumper on the other end.

2:59 2nd Half | Arkansas 56 – 82 Texas

Out of the timeout, Johnson went 1-2 at the charity stripe before giving up a layup to the Longhorns on the other end.

Joseph Pinion attacked the rim on the next possession with an aggressive drive, drawing a foul and making both of his free throws. He followed that up with a deep 3-pointer to cut the Longhorn lead to 25.

A pair of Texas free throws, a fast break slam, and a putback dunk quickly pushed the Longhorn lead back to 31.

Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws, but Arkansas fouled a 3-point shooter on the following possession and they went 1-3 from the free throw line. Jordan Walsh answered with a pull-up 3-point jumper.

End 2nd Half | Arkansas 60 – 90 Texas

Out of the timeout, Walsh attempted to hammer one home over a Longhorn defender and drew a foul in the process. He missed both attempts.

Walsh redeemed himself with a corner 3-pointer on the following possession. However, the Longhorns quickly answered with a triple of their own. Derrian Ford drew a foul attacking the rim and knocked down 1-2 free throws.

The Longhorns worked inside-out on the other end as they found a wide open shooter in the corner for another triple, making them 10-16 from downtown on the day. The ensuing possession, Texas drove to the rim for an open slam dunk with only seconds remaining in the game.

Full Game Stats

See more about this game here:

Preview Press Conference for Arkansas vs Texas Basketball


More coverage of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…

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