FAYETTEVILLE - Those Arkansas Razorbacks appearing so energetic in last Saturday night’s first half at nationally No. 6 Kentucky but never looked that energetic either half Tuesday night losing 84-78 against Mississippi State at Walton Arena.
Welcome to the club, say Louisville, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, all losing their next game after Kentucky whether winning as Louisville did or ultimately losing big as Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Arkansas did with Kentucky’s big second half swamping the Razorbacks, 97-71 after only leading Arkansas, 41-38 at intermission.
It will be interesting to see how the Vanderbilt Commodores, playing the socks off Kentucky before losing, 87-81 Tuesday night at their Memorial Gym in Nashville, fare Saturday night against Tennessee coming to Nashville.
Of course Mississippi State, hitting 12 3-point shots and erasing the Razorbacks on the boards, 41-29 including 15 offensive rebounds, earned its win at Walton, but a Kentucky hangover seemed to linger.
"You go into the No. 5 team in the country and you go toe to toe with them, it’s a matter of mindset," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said during Tuesday’s postgame. "I don’t think we came with the right mindset. Mississippi State is a very good team, a young team. They played together and they shot the ball well."
Just as Anderson warned them the Bulldogs could do.
"My message to our guys is the sense of urgency in conference play is each and every game,"Anderson said after Tuesday night’s game. "You have got to have short term memory. We went to Tennessee and won and we go and play Kentucky for about 30 minutes, that’s history. Now you have got to get back and get prepared for a team that is going to try to steal one on your home court. And that’s what took place. Again, very, very disappointed in our effort."
And especially disappointed this team defensively in the SEC isn’t what he saw nonconference and becoming increasingly concerned not quickness equipped to be the pressing team it was recruited to be.
"Just thought defensively for the most part in the game they would find that one weak link because they exploited us," Anderson said.
And Quinndary Weatherspoon, scoring 25 for Mississippi State including six of seven 3s, was the main exploiter while Bulldogs big man Aric Holman, 11 rebounds cleaned the boards.
"For Weatherspoon we had no answer," Anderson said, also praising Holman on the boards.
Letting a 3-point shooting team get foul-inducing second shots inside generally adds up to defeat.
"They got their bodies in there and they made an effort to get their bodies in there," Anderson said. "I think it’s want-to. It seemed like they were quicker to the ball. I didn’t think we played with that sense of urgency. When they penetrate you have got to come up with those rebounds. How about even on them rebounding off the free-throw line? That’s all about want-to. That’s all about heart and going and getting it."
Of course Florida’s guards qutquicked Arkansas before the Hogs played Kentucky. Is there a concern his Hogs just aren’t quick enough to play pressing, pressure defense?
"The thing I see is we don’t make the subtle adjustments in games," Anderson said. "Most of my teams guys on the floor make that subtle adjustment. So now they have got to make the subtle adjustments in terms of if a guy is beating them off the dribble that you know what we have to back off and keep the guy in front of us."
Anderson was asked about guard Daryl Macon only getting to the free throw line once after consistently getting to the line in previous games.
The more pressing question on Macon isn’t offensive, Anderson replied. " want him to play some defense. I want him to get better defensively. I think that’s going to be our biggest key and then our defense will create offense for us. We gave up 84 points and just gave up 90-something the other night. Without a doubt we have got to stop people and we have got to keep people off the glass."