Today's Paper Newsletters LEARNS Guide Fish Story Contest 🎣 Asa Hutchinson 2024 Today's Photos Public Notices Digital FAQ Razorback Sports Puzzles Crime Distribution Locations Obits

Huskies’ big men quash UA shooters

by Scottie Bordelon | March 24, 2023 at 2:09 a.m.
Arkansas guard Anthony Black (right) goes up for a shot Thursday while being defended by Connecticut forward Alex Karaban during the Razorbacks’ loss to the Huskies in Las Vegas. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

LAS VEGAS -- Arkansas players and fourth-year Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman gave a tip of the cap to No. 4 seed Connecticut's defensive performance in Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup at T-Mobile Arena.

The Huskies, a top-15 team in regards to defensive efficiency in 2022-23, according to KenPom data, held Arkansas to a season-worst shooting performance in their 88-65 victory over the Razorbacks.

Musselman's team, vying for a third straight Elite Eight appearance, shot 31.7% from the field for the game. Its previous low was 33.3% in a 65-58 win over North Carolina-Greensboro on Dec. 6.

"Their length was good," Arkansas wing Ricky Council said. "I know I probably got my shot blocked two or three times. I felt like I got fouled a couple of those times, but I'm not going to put it on that. Their length was really [good]. We knew that.

"They've got two strong centers in there, which is hard to stop. Other than that ... [length] was the main issue."

Council turned in a 17-point game, shooting 4 of 12 from the field. Eight of his points came at the free-throw line, and he was 3 of 9 on two-point attempts.

As a team, the Razorbacks were 15 of 47 (31.9%) on shots from inside the three-point line. The 15 two-point buckets are for the second-fewest in a game this season.

StatBroadcast also showed Arkansas (22-14), which had three shots blocked, made 9 of 22 layups.

"They've got a huge team," Razorbacks freshman Nick Smith said when asked about issues UConn's defense created. "Their bigs were pretty big. I don't know, man."

Arkansas hung with the Huskies for eight-plus minutes and found itself down 20-17 with 12:04 remaining in the first half after back-to-back scores by Council and freshman wing Jordan Walsh.

After Walsh's bucket, the Razorbacks were 6 of 12 from the field. They were 4 of 18 for the rest of the first half and trailed 46-29 at halftime.

Arkansas' shooting struggles continued after the break. It made just 10 of 33 (30.3%) shots, including 8 of 24 two-point looks, and misfired on 11 of its first 13 two-point shots.

"They had the big guys just lumbering around the paint," Walsh said. "They were just sitting there waiting to block shots and played super help defense coming off of our bigs. They weren't respecting the three at all, so they obviously did their research for the scouting report.

"They knew exactly what our weaknesses were and they attacked them perfectly and executed the way they were supposed to."

Asked about the Huskies' defense, Musselman said Arkansas did not get off many clean looks. He then rattled off some of the Razorbacks' shooting numbers from the final box score.

Junior guard Davonte Davis finished with 3 points on 1 of 10 from the field; starting forward Kamani Johnson was 0 of 3 and did not score; Walsh had 2 points and made 1 of 5 shots; and forward Makhi Mitchell was 1 of 4 for 2 points.

Freshman guard Anthony Black scored a team-high 20 points on 5 of 12 from the floor, and Smith added 11 on 4-of-9 shooting.

"They just had a pretty good game plan for us on defense," Black said. "We took some looks that we usually take and we'll take again if we get the chance. Some of it just didn't fall tonight.

"But they're a great defensive team."

Bowing out badly

A look at Arkansas’ most-lopsided NCAA Tournament losses:


1958 Cincinnati* 97-62

2008 North Carolina 108-77

1945 Oklahoma State 68-41

1958 Oklahoma State 65-40

2023 Connecticut 88-65

*Consolation game, no longer contested

Print Headline: Huskies’ big men quash UA shooters


Sponsor Content