A complete game from start to finish is what Hog fans have been waiting to see from the Arkansas Razorbacks. Wednesday night that is exactly what the Hogs delivered in a bench-clearing 35-point win over LSU.
Is LSU just bad? Maybe.
There is no denying the Tigers are struggling as their 35-point loss to the Hogs now makes them 0-10 in SEC play just a year after winning the SEC West.
Arkansas extends its lead in the SEC West and now sits at 6-3 in conference play. As far out there as it sounds, Arkansas fans are starting to wonder if the "Big Dance" is totally out of reach, or if the Razorbacks have a chance.
There is going to be plenty of time to discuss the NCAA tournament over the coming weeks, but if the Razorbacks can stay red hot, they will strengthen their chances and could approach the 20-win mark in the SEC Tournament.
Right now, the winning-streak, and the Hogs' most complete game of the year, should be the focus. The young Razorbacks know they need to remain focused on playing it game by game. This approach was on display as the Hogs hosted LSU, and proved they can avoid a letdown against what is perceived as an inferior team.
From the tip, the Hogs took control of this game in jumping out to a quick 12-2 lead. LSU made a few small runs during the first 10 minutes of the game, but after that point, the Razorbacks took compete control.
Bud Walton Arena was rocking for a weekday game, and the Razorbacks did not disappoint. Every player got in the game, and the Razorbacks came out serious from the opening tip.
The three keys to the Razorbacks impressive win were their defensive pressure, getting to the free-throw line, and rebounding.
The Hogs came out of the gate with defensive pressure that forced LSU into 17 turnovers. The turnovers translated into easy buckets. When LSU did take care of the ball, Arkansas' D stayed tight and held LSU to a low shooting percentage (37.5 percent).
Bench players Glenn Bryant, Jemal Farmer, Stef Welsh, Julysses Nobles, and Stephan Cox provided defensive intensity when their numbers where called, and their productivity allowed the Razorbacks to have a very fun night; everyone from the bench was involved in the big win.
Second, Arkansas stuck to its bread and butter over the past five games—getting to the free-throw line. The Razorbacks were 23-of-30 from the line compared to LSU's mere 4-of-8.
Courtney Fortson was able to get into the lane whenever he wanted, and the Razorbacks showed improvement in the inside-outside game that has been instrumental in their recent success. This kind of unselfish play must continue to improve for the Razorbacks to stay on their tear through the remainder of conference play.
Lastly, the Razorbacks out-rebounded LSU 40-28, and continued to show improvement in their bench depth and intensity.
Freshman Glenn Bryant provided a big spark off the bench for the Hogs, leading the team with nine rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Bryant and the other Arkansas bench players came up with big rebounds, blocks, steals, and overall high intensity to spark the Razorbacks to their best 40 minutes of the season.
John Pelphrey clearly has this young team peaking at the right time. The Razorbacks have seven conference games left followed by the SEC Tournament, and you can tell the team is playing with a purpose.
Does it have hopes of still making the Big Dance?
Whatever their motivation is, the Razorbacks need to keep their eyes on the prize. Winning the SEC West will be the best thing to happen to Arkansas basketball in quite some time, and will prove that the Arkansas Razorbacks are a team on the rise.
The Razorbacks hit the road Saturday to face off against Alabama. The Razorbacks win over Alabama to start SEC play is what kick started the Razorbacks' second-half of the season turn around.
On Wednesday night the LSU Tigers showed up with hopes of getting their first SEC win, but in the end, they were run out of the gym with their tails between their legs by a group of wild razorback hogs.
This article was written by Blake Stansbery of Born Hog Wild.
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