Arkansas Basketball: Season ends in second round loss of NIT

Arkansas’ season has come to a close after a 75-64 loss to California in the second round of the NIT Monday.

Arkansas finished the season 22-12 overall and 10-8 in the SEC. Seniors Coty Clarke, Fred Gulley, Kikko Haydar, Rickey Scott and Mardracus Wade will be missed and did a great job of laying the foundation for this program under Mike Anderson.

It wasn’t one of Arkansas’ best performances. Arkansas had only six points, 13 minutes into the game and all six points came from Bobby Portis. In fact, no one else besides Portis scored until five minutes left in the first half when Fred Gulley threw down a one-handed dunk over the defender for the and-one.

The Hogs made an effort to come back in the second half but just fell short of making it possible. They cut the lead down to eight with four minutes left but it never got closer than that.

The last time these two teams played earlier in the season, rebounding was the key factor. Arkansas was out-rebounded 48-32. This was not the case this time; Arkansas was still out-rebounded but only 38-37.

The main factor in Arkansas loss to California this time was their shooting or lack of shooting. The Hogs shot 32.1 percent (25-78) from the field. They were a miserable 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from deep.

It would have been a whole different game, had Arkansas been able to hit some shots. Arkansas even took 31 more field goal attempts than California and still came up short, that’s just poor shooting.

The Golden Bears did an amazing job at keeping Arkansas from scoring.

California came out in a lockdown 3-2 zone for most of the night. Arkansas struggled with the zone, especially because they couldn’t get outside shots to fall. They also struggled with attacking the zone, and as a result they rarely got the ball in the paint.

Rashad Madden led the Hogs with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds. Alandise Harris had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Portis ended with a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Portis had a much better game than the last time he faced California earlier in the year, where he finished with only five points.

Arkansas got it done on the defensive end, as always. They forced 16 turnovers and had five steals and four blocks. This game unfortunately came down to Arkansas’ poor offensive performance, especially in the first half.

There’s always next year.

This team showed us some up’s and down’s this season but they showed that they have what it takes to compete with anyone, they just have to be consistent in doing so.  They have to bring the same intensity every game, no matter whom they are playing or where the game is.

There’s still a lot of hope for the future of this program. It’s in good hands and there’s plenty of talent and ability to win games, but winning must be a priority every game next season.