In front of a sold-out Bud Walton Arena, the undersized Hogs achieved what hardly anybody thought would be possible in Year 1 of the Eric Musselman era. In beating Texas A&M 69-59, Arkansas is off to a 12-1 start — the program’s best start since 1991.
It is the best start for a first-year coach in program history, and ties for the best start in Hogs’ SEC history as you can see below:
Best Starts in Razorback basketball history
1990-91 (started 20-1)
At least two other teams have started seasons 12-1. They include:
1993-94 (eventual national champions)
2008-09 (eventual 2-14 SEC team)
Under John Pelphrey, this was the very definition of “flash in a pan”
The 19,200 listed attendance for tonight's game is @RazorbackMBB's largest since 19,259 vs. Syracuse on 11/30/2012, though that Syracuse figure was estimated and its official number was 18,730. Last largest official attendance was 19,724 vs UGA on 3/1/2009 https://t.co/sCRMSYLD5g— HogStats.com (@HogStats) January 5, 2020
Eric Musselman after the game
“The crowd’s energy was insanely awesome,” Eric Musselman said afterward. “Had a buddy in from the Bay Area, and he’s never heard an arena that loud in his entire life.”
This is impressive considering any buddy of Musselman’s also going to be a hoophead. Which means that in the last five years, that friend almost certainly attended Golden State Warrior games at Oracle Arena — the venue which was famous for being among the NBA’s loudest.
Box score from Arkansas-Texas A&M
In the second half, with Adrio Bailey sitting with foul trouble, Musselman went with what’s becoming the Arkansas equivalent of Golden State’s “death lineup”: Jimmy Whitt, Desi Sills, Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones and Jalen Harris.
“I think we give up a little size obviously,” Jimmy Whitt said afterward, “so it makes it a little tougher for us to go out there and rebound, but I felt like today we were able to go out there, compete hard on the defensive end and get rebounds when we needed to, make these kinds of stops when we need to. And then, on offense, it’s hard to guard five guards because they play a big and there’s a mismatch. We have guys that can shoot get to the rim and drive, so we cause a matchup problem.”
Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams agrees, saying that Arkansas is playing an elite variant of the “position-less basketball” that the Kevin Durant/Draymond Green/Steph Curry/Klay Thompson-led Warriors perfected.
Buzz Williams had a good scouting report of Arkansas' five guard lineup after the game. He said they're interchangeable but their strengths are defined. They play "position-less" and with "great spacing," he said. "Hard to guard." pic.twitter.com/lC1WTsqePu— Kyle Deckelbaum (@KATVKyle) January 5, 2020