After a loss where they couldn’t even hit layups, Arkansas needed a good outing against Tennessee on Wednesday night.
They ended up having a decent chance to win.
But Jalen Tate’s 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left that could have sent the game into overtime was just a little long, the Vols got the rebound, hit a couple of free throws and downed the Razorbacks, 79-74, in Knoxville.
“it was a great shot,” Eric Musselman said later about the last shot. “It hit the back of the rim, but it was straight. It wasn’t left, it wasn’t right. Obviously we were out of timeouts. I thought it was a good look.”
Shooting wasn’t the problem for the Hogs, unlike Saturday’s loss to Missouri. The Hogs were 29-of-55 (52.7%) from the field, 8-of-20 (40%) from beyond the arc and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.
That last stat is the key. Tennessee was 20-of-26 on free throws.
“We shot the ball as well against them as anybody has from the field,” Musselman said. “It was our lack of getting to the foul line. Only 10 free throws attempted. We’re an extremely high free throw attempt team.”
The Hogs out-rebounded the Vols (37-28), but they couldn’t get to the line.
“We were trying to get into the teeth of the defense and not settle for three’s,” Musselman said. “Our three-point shot selection was really good tonight. We moved the ball pretty well.”
Arkansas led by seven at halftime (40-33), but Tennessee came out in a hurry in the second half and built an eight-point lead before J.D. Notae cut it to 71-69 with 1:19 left in the game.
Tate had a big steal to keep the Hogs in the game, but Vance Jackson had a long three-pointer rim out (“a great look,” Musselman said) and somehow Connor Vanover missed the put-back attempt.
After that, the Hogs were scrambling and the Vols were making free throws.
Musselman admitted later the team played much better in a road game against a Top 10 team. Any questions about the team responding after a stone-cold game shooting against Missouri were answered positively.
At least for the fans.
“We got on the plane to win the game and we didn’t accomplish that,” Musselman said later. “It’s pretty plain and simple.”
The Hogs will host Georgia on Saturday in a 2:30 p.m. game on the SEC Network. You can listen to the game here at HitThatLine.com or on ESPN Arkansas 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.
The Bulldogs won all seven of their non-conference games before dropping the SEC opener at home to Mississippi State last week.
Georgia lost in overtime to LSU in Baton Rouge on Wednesday night, 94-92.