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Razorback Recap: Hogs turn up defense in dominant win over Rice

The Eric Musselman era started with a bang on Tuesday night. The season opener against former Southwest Conference foe, Rice, was a fun one for fans who made their way to Bud Walton Arena. Suffocating defense led to a 91-43 win over the Owls. Tonight’s 48-point victory is the largest season-opening win since Rotnei Clarke scored 51 points in a 130-68 Arkansas win over Alcorn St. in 2009.

Credit: Times Record

Despite scoring 39 points in the first half, the offense looked stagnant at times. Rice chose to run a matchup zone that focused on keeping Isaiah Joe from scoring from the 3-point line. The zone defense kept the Hogs out of the paint. The evident halftime adjustment Musselman made was to push the ball after defensive rebounds. This got the Hogs in the paint for several easy layups. Fastbreak after fast break early in second half stretched the lead and the Hogs never looked back.

 

What Went Right

Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones

Joe has expanded his game dramatically. The Rice defense chased him off the 3-point line early and often. Joe went 10-18 for 24 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.

Credit: KNWA

Jones was dominant from the get-go. He had 9 of Arkansas’ first 11 points. He racked up 32 points (career high) on 12-18 with 3 assists, 5 steals, and 7 rebounds.

Defensive Dominance

Rice struggled all night on the offensive end. They just could not get it going. Arkansas forced many late shot clock scenarios, tipped passes, and 27 turnovers.
The Owls allowed 29 points off turnovers while shooting just 28.6% for the game.

Rebounding

The Hogs out-rebounded Rice, 45-27. Arkansas surrendered ZERO second chance points. Yes, you read that right! This will not be a common occurrence for this team. Rice is much like Arkansas. Neither team has much size or length in the post. That did not matter tonight for Musselman’s squad.

What Went Wrong

Turnovers

Yet again, turnovers were an issue for the Hogs. The total crept up to 21 tonight. Same story for the third straight game. Just as Musselman eluded to in a recent press conference, most of them were unforced. Many dropped passes or losing of the basketball. Shoring up the turnovers is necessary come SEC play.

What Now

Arkansas has a week off before North Texas comes to Bud Walton on Nov. 12th. The Hogs will look to build off what they started tonight, but cut down on the turnovers. Arkansas has seven games in November. This will be the longest break in between games until December. The grind begins and the Muss Bus has left the station.

 

Around the SEC: Opening Night

Alabama

The Nate Oats era started off with a dud as Alabama loses at home against Penn, 81-80. Kira Lewis Jr. had 30 points, but missed 2 free throws with .6 seconds left in the game.

Auburn          

#24 Auburn took care of business against a Sun-Belt favorite Georgia Southern, 83-74.

Florida

#6 Florida pulled away from North Florida, 74-59.

Georgia

Western Carolina gave the Bulldogs all they wanted for 32 minutes, but Georgia runs away with a 91-72 win.

Kentucky

In the Champions Classic, #2 Kentucky beat #1 Michigan State, 69-62. The Wildcats are the real deal!

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs beat Florida International, 77-69. Former Arkansas commit Reggie Perry had 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Tennessee

The Volunteers begin life after Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield with a 78-63 win over UNC-Asheville.

Ben Brandon
Like many in our state, I didn't have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don't have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!