Arkansas ended their 23-game home win streak with the 84-82 overtime loss to No. 10 Florida.
The game was a huge missed opportunity for Arkansas and there are a few things that can be taken away from this game.
1. Arkansas needs to be able to close out a game.
Arkansas had a seven point lead with 4:43 left in the game. They only scored one more time in regulation on a made basket by Madden with 1:37 and gave up four baskets during that span, including a three-pointer. Alandise Harris missed the front end of a one and one with 18 seconds left with Arkansas up two. Two made free throws by Harris and it’s a two possession game but instead he misses and Florida goes and ties it up with two seconds left.
Good teams know how to close out a game. Especially when they have a seven point lead with under five minutes in the game. A lead doesn’t mean to stop being aggressive but you need to be smart. On offense you need good possessions that run time off the clock but you also have to look for a good shot. On defense you have to play tough but don’t get any stupid fouls and don’t give up any easy baskets. Arkansas didn’t quite do that.
In overtime, Florida took a quick five point lead with just 3:50 remaining. Now, Arkansas has to know how to play from behind. Rashad Madden hit a three to cut the deficit to two with 2:54 left. Bobby Portis missed free throws once again with 2:13 left to make it a one-point game. Down three with 10 seconds left, Alandise Harris drives the lane and throws up a shot and misses. Poor decision. He had Rashad Madden, who was hot, in the corner for a three to tie the game.
Arkansas needs to learn from their mistakes in this game. Clock management, missed free throws and smart decisions are something they have to be able to do to close out close games.
2. Rashad Madden is the go to guy.
Madden had his best game as a Hog. He scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including five three-pointers. He grabbed five boards, dished out three assists, and picked up a steal and a block. He also had zero turnovers, a huge stat for Madden. He took care of the ball and made smart decisions. He hit big shots down the stretch but didn’t get much help from his teammates. He is shooting 56.7 percent on the season simply because he takes smart shots and doesn’t force anything.
Arkansas is starting to rely on Madden to be the leader and set the pace for this team but they also need to help him out a little, he can’t do it all.
3. More production needs to come from Qualls and Portis.
In the first two SEC games, Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis are a combined 12-of-48 from the field. This just can’t happen. Arkansas relies on these two to produce every single game. Against Florida, Qualls was only 2-of-10 but finished with 10 points, thanks to his free throw shooting. Portis was 6-of-16 and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. He also made some bad decisions down the stretch and missed clutch free throws, freshman mistakes.
For Arkansas to finish out the rest of the season on a good note, Qualls needs to be scoring around 12 to 14 points a game and shooting better than 2-of-10 from the field and Portis needs to be averaging a double-double every single game.
4. Make free throws.
Arkansas struggled at the line, shooting 66.7 percent, which cost them the game. A few more made free throws and the game was theirs, pure and simple. There isn’t really much more to say about that.
Arkansas will face Kentucky on Tuesday in Fayetteville for the ESPN Super Tuesday game. They can’t let their loss to Florida drag over to Kentucky, they need to come out and win this game.