LIVE UPDATES: Arkansas vs Vanderbilt: Hogs Put Pressure on a Sam Pittman of SEC Basketball

Sam Pittman, Arkansas football, Arkansas vs Vanderbilt, Arkansas basketball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — The Razorbacks blew their first chance at a three-game SEC winning streak when they hosted the Arkansas vs Vanderbilt matchup Tuesday night.

They were beaten by a coach whose career has mirrored that of Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman when the Commodores, under Vanderbilt basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse, walked out of Bud Walton Arena with an 85-82 win.

There are more similarities between Pittman and Stackhouse than you might think.

Both of them were hired in 2019 as first-time Division I head coaches who hailed from neighboring states and inherited struggling programs with significant SEC losing streaks. Both of them have enjoyed one really good year, a decent year, two not-so-great years and are now on the hot seat in Year 5. Indeed, Stackhouse is listed on quite a few “hottest seat” lists, including this one listing the five hottest seats in college basketball. Pittman, meanwhile, was listed by ESPN in the “hottest” tier of eight such coaches in college football.

Pittman is from Oklahoma and took over an Arkansas football program that had lost 19 straight SEC games. The Razorbacks surprised the country with a top-25 season in 2021 and won a bowl in 2022, but went 3-7 (albeit against an all-SEC schedule) in 2020 and 4-8 in 2023.

Recent Jerry Stackhouse Woes

Stackhouse is from North Carolina and took over a Vanderbilt basketball program coming off a season in which it went 0-18. It was a struggle his first two years, finishing 14th and 13th in SEC play, but the Commodores went 19-17 and played in the NIT during the 2021-22 season before a shocking 22-15 season in which they finished tied for fourth in the SEC last year. That earned him SEC Coach of the Year honors.

Any goodwill that season earned Stackhouse seems to have worn off this year. Vanderbilt has struggled to a 8-20 overall record that included home non-conference losses to Presbyterian, San Francisco and Western Carolina. It is also just 3-12 in SEC play, making it one of two — along with Missouri — teams behind Arkansas in the conference standings.

“I got hired here to do a job and I’ve been trending in the right direction for a long time,” Jerry Stackhouse said last week when asked about his job security.

“I know there’s a lot of noise out there about a lot of things, but one thing I can say,” he continued in the clip below. “No weapons thrown against me shall prosper. I’ve got faith with the man upstairs that He put me in this position for a reason and everything I’m going through right now with this team and off the court is ordained. And the stuff is going to make me better.”

Pittman was similarly matter-of-fact when asked about his job security late in the 2023 season. “If I was worried about me personally, I think it would take away from what we’re trying to get done here,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do, I get paid to do it. I need to do a better job, so I can’t really sit around worried about my job security or me.”

Eric Musselman, meanwhile, doesn’t have to worry about job security despite Tuesday night’s loss. He had built up plenty of goodwill going into this tough SEC run and a lot of Arkansas basketball fans are allowing for a mulligan. All the same, his team as a whole had gotten better in the last five games outside of a second half vs Tennessee leading into Vanderbilt.

With road games against Kentucky and Alabama sandwiched around a home game against LSU looming, the Arkansas vs Vanderbilt matchup was important for the Razorbacks as they fought to get back on the NIT bubble. (The NCAA Tournament now requires winning the SEC Tournament.)

(READ NEXT: Musselman Experiences Embarrassing “First” + More from Vanderbilt Loss

LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Starting Lineup

Vanderbilt BasketballArkansas Basketball
Tyrin LawrenceEl Ellis
Isaiah WestDevo Davis
Erza ManjonKhalif Battle
Evan TaylorTramon Mark
Ven-Allen LubinChandler Lawson

11:30 1H | Arkansas 20 – 11 Vanderbilt

Tramon Mark opened up the scoring with an isolation bucket in the paint. Khalif Battle drew a foul on a fast break opportunity a few possessions later, though he went 0-2 from the charity stripe after hitting 30 of his last 33 attempts. The next two possessions, however, Battle converted an And-1 opportunity before grabbing a steal for a fast-break layup, giving him 5 quick points.

Mark’s gravity as a scorer opened up driving lanes for other Hogs, and Battle took full advantage with his aggressive play. He knocked down another pair of free throws after the under-16 timeout to give him 9 early points. A couple possessions later, he drew another foul that resulted in a scuffle under the rim.

Devo Davis and Ven-Allen Lubin were assessed double-technicals after a mostly-verbal scuffle and Battle picked up a technical for escalating the altercation.

A beautiful possession from Arkansas where all five players touched the ball resulted in a Jeremiah Davenport three-pointer on his first attempt of the game, stretching the Hogs’ lead to 10. Davenport got a bit aggressive on the other end, though, allowing the Commodores another free throw opportunity in which they went 1-of-2.

07:04 1H | Arkansas 22 – 18 Vanderbilt

Layden Blocker made an incredible effort play to stop a Vanderbilt fast break, but he was whistled for a goaltend that even the announcers weren’t sure what to do with upon further review. The Commodores followed that up with a three-pointer while their zone defense gave the Hogs fits for multiple possessions on the other end, cutting the Razorback lead down to only four points.

Trevon Brazile – in his first extended stretch of minutes in several weeks – made an instant impact for Arkansas on the offensive glass and running in transition as he quickly drew a foul on a fast break opportunity (1 of 2 from the line) after forcing a turnover from Vanderbilt on the other end. The Hogs forced 7 turnovers in the first 11 minutes of game time.

Arkansas sprinkled in a few turnovers of their own in the midst of seven straight missed shots to allow Vanderbilt to climb back into the game.

03:46 1H | Arkansas 27 – 29 Vanderbilt

The Hogs seemed to grow content with shooting over the Commodore zone, though it paid off for Battle who drew a foul on a three-point attempt (went 3-for-3) after Vanderbilt cut the lead to 22-21. Battle is up to 15 points in the first half.

El Ellis broke a streak of nine straight missed shots with a wild circus shot off the glass, keeping the Hogs just barely ahead of Vanderbilt. The Commodores responded however with multiple strong drives to the rim. They took the lead with a pair of free throws after the final media timeout of the half.

END 1H | Arkansas 31 – 35 Vanderbilt

Arkansas continued to be content with shooting over the Commodore’s zone defense, and they continued to miss several of those shots. Vanderbilt found yet another opportunity in the paint to push their lead to 31-27 with three minutes to play, capping off a 21-7 Vanderbilt run.

Arkansas made only 1 of their last 17 shot attempts to end the half. Vanderbilt kept forcing their way into the paint to stretch their lead. Mark seemed to take note of the strategy with a drive of his own to draw a foul and stop the bleeding.

Battle forced a turnover to give the Hogs the final possession of the half, and Mark capitalized with another foul drawn. He knocked down both free throws to cut the Razorbacks’ deficit down to two points, but the Commodores hit a buzzer beater to extend their lead again just before the half.

12:49 2H | Arkansas 43 – 50 Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt opened the half with a quick second-chance layup to extend their lead to six. Arkansas missed back to back long jumpers before giving up another back to back layups, giving the Commodores their largest lead of the game at 41-31. The Hogs were 0-12 prior to this game when trailing by double-digits at any point in a game.

Ellis ended the drought by finally hitting a three, followed by a Chandler Lawson slam. After a pair of paint buckets from Vanderbilt, Mark sparked some life into the team with a triple, followed by a crafty finish through traffic from Battle to further cut into the Commodore lead.

08:08 2H | Arkansas 48 – 59 Vanderbilt

A slow stretch from both teams out of the under-16 media timeout was ended by another fancy finish from Ellis in the paint, but Vanderbilt quickly answered with a bucket through contact. They converted at the line to extend their lead to seven points.

Mark continued his aggressive play, earning another trip to the free throw line, though he followed up by fouling a ball-handler on the other end. Vanderbilt entered the bonus and went 2 of 2 from the line.

Battle kept the Hogs’ hopes alive with a deep three-ball after an offensive rebound, but Vanderbilt responded with yet another layup and a three-pointer in quick succession. A few possessions later, the Commodores found their largest lead of the game with – you guessed it – a wide open layup.

04:00 2H | Arkansas 65 – 74 Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt entered the bonus with 7:52 left on the game clock, and they knocked down both free throws to take a 13-point lead. Battle proceeded to hit another long-range, off-balance bomb to inject a bit of life back into the building.

The Commodores came back with a triple of their own, followed by a frustration foul 60-something feet away from the rim on Trevon Brazile, affording Vanderbilt another made free throw.

Both teams traded free throws and layups for several possessions as Arkansas couldn’t stop fouling ball-handlers on defense. Ellis broke that streak with a fast-break three-pointer to get the Hogs within single digits and gave Bud Walton Arena some life in the process, though it was immediately staunched with a whistle on the other end, sending Vanderbilt back to the free throw line.

END GAME | Arkansas 82 – 85 Vanderbilt

Battle opened up the final stretch of play with a step-back three-pointer to give him 30 points on the night, becoming the first Hog with back to back 30-point games since Mason Jones.

Brazile followed that up with a three-pointer of his own, which was quickly followed by a three from Ellis in transition to bring the Hogs within three points with 2:04 to play!

Vanderbilt found their way right to the rim out of a timeout to reach 80 points for the first time all season and stretch their lead back to five points. Battle forced his way into the paint to earn another pair of free throws shortly after, going 2 of 2 from the stripe.

The Commodores secured an offensive rebound off of two missed free throws and put the ball back in through the contact, converting a three-point play to give Vanderbilt a six-point lead with under 30 seconds to play. Mark drew a foul and hit both free throws.

Arkansas then stole the inbound pass leading to a Battle triple, drawing the Hogs to within one point with under five seconds to play. They were forced to foul on the ensuing inbound. Vanderbilt knocked down both free throws to go up by three.

Tramon Mark’s three-pointer at the buzzer was just off the mark.

Read out post-game here:

How to Watch Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 27

Location: Bud Walton Arena (Fayetteville, Ark.)

Tipoff Time/TV: 8 p.m. CT (SEC Network)

ESPN BPI: Arkansas has an 85.7% chance of winning, favored by 11.4 points.

KenPom: Arkansas has an 81% chance of winning, favored by a score of 77-68.

SEC Basketball Standings

TeamSEC RecordOverall Record
1. Tennessee11-321-6
1. Alabama11-319-8
3. South Carolina10-422-5
3. Auburn10-421-6
5. Florida9-519-8
5. Kentucky9-519-8
7. Mississippi State8-619-8
8. Ole Miss6-819-8
8. Texas A&M6-815-12
8. LSU6-814-13
11. Georgia5-915-12
11. Arkansas5-914-13
13. Vanderbilt2-127-20
14. Missouri0-148-19


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Andrew Hutchinson and Evin Demirel contributed to the above feature.

More coverage of Arkansas basketball from BoAS…

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