WHY ARKANSAS LOST: Arkansas fell into another double-digit hole on the road/neutral site, found a way to climb back late, but couldn’t make plays down the stretch in a 75-72 loss to Vanderbilt. It dropped Arkansas to 1-12 outside the state this season and 0-5 in the SEC Tournament the past five years. The Razorbacks will look at their struggles at the free-throw line (20 of 34), an inability to generate points off turnovers until late (Arkansas finished with 14 off 12 Vandy turnovers), and defensive lapses that led to open 3-pointers as the biggest problems in a first-round loss.
WHY VANDERBILT WON: Vanderbilt was efficient from long range, beating the Razorbacks with a strong shooting performance behind the 3-point line. The Commodores – who entered the tournament ranked second in the SEC in 3-point field goals (231) and fourth in 3-point percentage (35.1) — went 12-for-28 against Arkansas. Dai-Jon Parker and Rod Odom led the way with a combined 8-for-15 effort.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Odom was the biggest key in Vanderbilt’s win, equaling his career-high with 20 points to push Vanderbilt into a Friday night game against Kentucky. He went 5-for-9 behind the 3-point line and also added seven rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. The one blemish? Odom wasn’t very good at the free-throw line on a night both teams struggled (3-for-11).
STAT OF THE GAME: Arkansas coach Mike Anderson shook his head when he looked at the postgame stat sheet Thursday night. The reason? Arkansas’ free throw woes. The Razorbacks missed 14 attempts in what proved to be a three-point loss. Marshawn Powell had the toughest night, going 7-for-15. Powell offered no excuses for his missed opportunities after the game saying “just put it on me.”
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I thought our guys had the right mindset coming in. This is the time we play some of our better basketball. So it’s disappointing for me from that standpoint. It gives me the mindset that, you know what, we’re not going to let it happen again. But there’s nothing you can do. Vandy played better than we did (Thursday). We’ll learn from it. We’ll learn from it. Hopefully it’s going to make us better as we continue to hopefully play.” — Anderson on the loss.
UP NEXT: Arkansas knows there will be no trip to the NCAA Tournament this season because of its struggles outside the state (1-12). But the one-and-done performance in Nashville leaves plenty of questions about whether the Hogs will even be part of the 32-team National Invitation Tournament field this month. The NIT will be set shortly after the NCAA Tournament field is unveiled on Sunday. Arkansas has not played in a postseason tournament since its 2008 NCAA Tournament berth.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau