Hogs hoping to improve against Abilene Christian

Arkansas NCAA college basketball player Trevon Brazile speaks during Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

The last time we saw the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Hogs did their best to throw away a 20-point lead when they struggled offensively in the last fourth of the game against Lipscomb’s zone defense.

The game devolved into a turnover festival before the Hogs eked out the victory.

The Razorbacks (7-4) escaped their annual foray to North Little Rock’s Simmons Arena with a too-close-for-comfort 69-66 victory.

One guesses the Abilene Christian Wildcats (5-6, 0-2 Western Athletic Conference) might throw a similar zone at the Hogs in Bud Walton Arena at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Hogs’ final game before Christmas.

The Razorbacks will play the Wildcats and then host UNC Wilmington at 4 p.m. Dec. 30 before embarking on their SEC schedule by hosting Auburn at 1 p.m. on Jan. 6 and traveling to Georgia for an 8 p.m. contest on Jan. 10.

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman has been working the Razorbacks twice a day since their last outing, but in shorter, more intense sessions.

Next up for the Razorbacks

Opponent: Abilene Christian
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21
Where: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville
TV: SEC Network

Next 5 games

Dec. 30 – UNC Wilmington, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Jan. 6 – Auburn, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Jan. 10 – at Georgia, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/U)
Jan. 13 – at Florida, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 16 – Texas A&M, 8 p.m. (SEC Network)

Musselman said there is a great bond among his players off the court, mentioning that a large group of them went out to eat together Tuesday night, but he then added that that same chemistry needs to show up between the lines where it actually counts.

“Once we hit the floor,” Musselman said, “we’ve got to figure it out.”

It seems every year Musselman’s Hogs’ have a lull before the squad starts clicking. Over the past four seasons, that lull came at the beginning of SEC play.

Perhaps the Razorbacks are experiencing that lull earlier this season, and will figure out their issues prior to SEC play?

That’s the hope anyway.

The Razorbacks have risen to several highs this year already like the exhibition win over Purdue, now ranked No. 1 as well as the double-overtime win over Stanford, and the victory over Duke.

However the Hogs’ lows like the losses to Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma and particularly the unexplainable loss to UNC Greensboro are perplexing.

Maybe the Hogs can pull their game together prior to the start of SEC play. It would be nice to see signs of that emerge against Abilene Christian on Thursday.