Arkansas’ fast start has hit multiple speed bumps of late.
The No. 24 Razorbacks hope to regain their footing when they host Elon on Tuesday night in a non-conference game at Fayetteville, Ark.
Arkansas (9-2) posted seven double-digit victories while winning its first nine games, but back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Hofstra have left Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman dejected.
The Razorbacks were routed 88-66 by Oklahoma on Dec. 11 in a neutral-court contest at Tulsa, Okla. Seven days later, Arkansas led for just 43 seconds while it was stunningly outplayed and lost 89-81 to Hofstra at North Little Rock, Ark.
“I think Hofstra played harder than we played, which is really hard for me to say because I haven’t said it very often as a coach,” Musselman said after Saturday’s setback. “They dominated us just off effort, quite frankly.
“They scored 89 points. They led the entire game, and we got outrebounded by seven. So, if your shots aren’t falling and you get outrebounded and you don’t defend very well, you’re probably going to be in for a long night, which is what happened.”
Of course, that makes consecutive long nights for the Razorbacks entering the game with the Phoenix (3-9), who have lost eight of their past nine contests.
Musselman isn’t counting on an easy time against Elon. He also said he has no idea how his team will respond to the adversity.
“I’m not sure. That’s the most disappointing, from a competitive nature, that I’ve ever coached a team in seven years of college,” said Musselman, in his third season with the Razorbacks after four at Nevada. “Both these games, I’m disappointed in how we’ve played in a lot of different facets.”
JD Notae scored 20 points and Chris Lykes added 19 as Arkansas trailed by as many as 14 against Hofstra. Notae averages a team-best 18.3 points per game.
Lykes (12.5), Au’Diese Toney (12.1) and Davonte Davis (11.2) also average in double figures.
Elon, which is 0-7 away from home this season, is coming off Saturday’s 87-56 loss at No. 2 Duke in a rapidly put-together contest.
The Blue Devils lost two opponents to COVID-19 issues — first Cleveland State, then Loyola Maryland — before lining up the Phoenix late Friday afternoon.
Elon coach Mike Schrage had no issues making the 40-minute drive to Durham, N.C., on short notice. Schrage worked at Duke from 1999-2008, serving as recruiting coordinator for three seasons and director of basketball operations for six.
“I’m glad we had this opportunity and that it all came together,” Schrage said after the loss. “Even with the result, I wouldn’t have passed this up.
“I think it would’ve helped us some if we had a little bit more time to prepare for their pressure a little bit, but Duke is a great team, so give them credit.”
Jerald Gillens-Butler scored a season-best 14 points for the Phoenix. Zac Ervin added 11.
Hunter McIntosh leads Elon with a 11.3 scoring average. Torrence Watson (11.2), Darius Burford (11.0) and Ervin (10.4) also average in double digits.
This is the second meeting between the schools. Arkansas rolled to a 96-52 home win on Dec. 29, 2001.
–Field Level Media