So here’s the question: If you are picked to finish last in your conference, and after 4 conference games you’ve lost them all, is that living up to expectations? If so, then the Razorbacks are doing precisely that, as today they fell by more than 20 points at home to the Auburn Tigers 73-51. The Razorbacks and are now 0-4 in SEC play, and in the spot they were predicted by SEC writers to finish in before the season began, last place in the SEC.
Stefan Welsh led the Razorbacks with 14 points, but the Razorbacks were playing without suspended forward Brandon Moore and Marcus Monk, who according to a press release is being investigated by the University for potential eligibility issues, and could not get anything going on offense. Things weren’t much better on the defensive end either, as the Razorbacks struggled all night to stop the Tigers.
The Hogs have now dug themselves into an 0-4 hole, and will be fighting to claw their way out of the SEC cellar. Not cool.
Player of the game: Umm…None. Welsh led the scoring, but only shot 5-14, so it’s not him. Mike Wash had 12 rebounds, but only 8 points, so not him. Sanchez had 8 points, and only 2 rebounds, so not him. Fortson had only 4 assists, and 6 turnovers. So, none.
So what’s wrong with the Razorbacks? After starting 12-1 in non-conference play, and knocking off two top ten teams in a week, the Razorbacks have lost four conference games in a row. I think it boils down to five things.
1. Defenses are double teaming Michael Washington.
SEC defenses may have found Arkansas’ achilles heel, in that if you stop Michael Washington, you stop the Razorbacks. In the last four games, Mike Wash’s scoring #’s have decreased due to opponents double teaming him, and he has had difficulty passing out of the double teams to find his open teammates. They are also playing a tight zone and daring the Razorbacks’ guards to take open 3’s, and the Razorbacks’ guards aren’t making them.
2. Courtney Fortson is human.
After an insane start to the season, freshman point guard Courtney Fortson is playing like, well, a freshman. Over the last four games, Fortson has only 14 assists versus 22 turnovers. As important as the point guard position is, that is not going to get the job done.
3. Really poor shooting.
Over the last four games, the Razorbacks are shooting less than 40% from the floor, 17% from the 3 point line, and around 58% from the free throw line. ‘Nuff said.
4. Where’s the defense?
Especially on the perimeter. Opponents over the last four games are shooting almost 40% from the three point line against the Razorbacks. They are getting way too many uncontested looks from beyond the arch, and as a result, the Hogs have lost 4 in a row.
5. Where are all our players?
The Razorbacks today were down to just 9 scholarship players, and one of those is Stephen Cox who started as a walk-on, and earned a scholarship this year. The Hogs have lost Patrick Beverly, Montrel McDonald, and now Brandon Moore, and Marcus Monk for some reason or other. Moore and Monk may be back, but the Razorbacks are razor-thin depth wise right now.