After a solid performance against Tennessee last week, the Razorbacks once again allowed their opponent to jump out to a huge lead to start the game against Georgia. The Hogs didn’t score their first point until bench player, Jalen Harris, came into the game and hit a three well over four minutes into the game. This bucket came after an impressive 14-0 run from the Bulldogs to open the game. Anthony Edwards, a future NBA lottery pick, scored over the Hogs best defender with little to no trouble. Combined with Edwards scoring was an onslaught from Junior forward, Rayshaun Hammonds. He poured in 22 points, his highest total since Georgia’s fourth game of the season on 11/20. He also added nine rebounds, three assists, and three 3PTs on 75% 3PT shooting and 69% from the field.
Razorbacks Bright Spots
Despite the double digit loss, there were still a few bright spots the team can build upon moving forward. A few players stood out with their scoring contributions, and the team as a whole showed tremendous fight for the last 30 minutes game time.
Sills has found his role with the team as he once again came off the bench against Georgia. Whatever mental switch is flipped between starting and coming off the bench is working for Sills. He came into the game and immediately hit too massive threes to give the Razorbacks offense new life. He scored a career high 21 points on 62% shooting. He made as many field goals as both Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe, on less attempts than either of them. Just as impressive to me was his tenacity on the boards. Measuring at 6’1, the stand-alone shortest player on the roster, Sills lead the team in defensive and total rebounds. He finished with six boards which, in all honesty, is not a ton, but it was two more than the Razorbacks’ starting center, Adrio Bailey (4).
Joe & Jones
The Razorbacks star backcourt of Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones have become household names for anyone who keeps up with SEC basketball. Joe started the year on many draft boards and remains in NBA talks with his lengthy frame and pure shooting stroke despite missing several games due to injury. Jones on the other hand has been a Cinderella story of sorts as he came from un-recruited out of high school to finishing in likely the top 3-4 of the SEC POY race.
The duo showed us what some of the hype was about against Georgia. After a slow start from the team as a whole, Joe and Jones accounted for 26 points each on a combined 50% shooting from the field. Their 52 total points included five triples on 33% shooting and a perfect 15/15 from the free throw line. Jones left the game late due to an apparent leg cramp and/or injury. However, Joe never gave up the fight as he hit multiple difficult shots off the dribble in the final desperation moments of the game. They weren’t able to get it done in this one, but Hog fans everywhere are eyeing their remaining years of eligibility.
Game of Runs
As was stated earlier in the article, Georgia started the game on a blistering pace. They jumped out to a 14 point lead before the Hogs scored a single point and led by as many as 18 in the first half. However, instead of folding or panicking, the Hogs finished the first half on a 21-11 run to cut the deficit from 18 to 8 heading into half time. In fact, Mason Jones went on a mini 5-0 run of his own to open the second half and cut the lead to only 47-44. The Hogs looked like they had all the momentum, finally figuring out Georgia’s offense and weaknesses on defense. They would hang around, fluctuating from being down four points to down 11.
They stayed just within striking distance until they made another surge late in the game. After going down 71-60 with 10 minutes left, the Hogs poured on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 73-72 with 6:30 on the clock. Unfortunately, this would be as close as they would get. They traded buckets, hovering right around a 3-5 point deficit until about 2:00 remained in the game. Mason Jones left the game with a noncontact injury that looked like a severe leg cramp, and Isaiah Joe was unable to weather the storm on his own. Despite trailing 85-84 late in the game, the Hogs proved to be outmatched as they fell 99-89 in Athens.
Razorbacks Tournament Hopes Getting Slimmer
This loss was demoralizing for Hog fans, as it could very easily be the nail in the coffin for their tournament hopes. Their only sure-fire shot at the big dance is of course winning the SEC Tournament. The team is now in a position where they must win every game up until at least the semifinals of the SEC Tournament to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. Since the Florida loss, I’ve been predicting that the Hogs need to get to 21-22 wins to have a chance on Selection Sunday. This number is still very attainable as Arkansas currently sits at 18 wins with two games left. Wins against LSU at home and Texas A&M on the road would have the Hogs poised for an SEC Tournament run for their lives.
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