Final Score: Arkansas 81, Oklahoma 78
Twitter Recap: Hogs in front for all but 3 min. Pair of Pledger 3s gives OU lead w/20 secs left. Young answers w/game-winning floater. Ark’s Powell nets 33
Offensive revival in Fayetteville. It’s unclear yet how good—if at all—Arkansas will be this season. We do know this: the Hogs will be awfully fun to watch regardless. Maybe it’s not Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell,” but Mike Anderson’s up-tempo offense is a worthy recreation of his mentor’s frantic offensive system. The Razorbacks are averaging better than 82 points per game while playing the 12th fastest tempo in college basketball—the third fastest of any high-major school, trailing only North Carolina and DePaul. Proof of just how unique Arkansas’ new-look system is: after Oklahoma took its first lead since the opening minutes with 20 seconds to play, BJ Young raced up the court and sunk the would-be game-winner just five seconds later. Not only are the Hogs pushing the tempo even off of made baskets; they’re doing so at the end of halves, on tired legs, with the game on the line.
Marshawn Powell. Meet the SEC’s most underrated, ultra-versatile forward—the player the Hogs sorely missed last season when Powell tore his ACL just two games into the season. An underrated passer, Powell put his distributing ability on full display against Oklahoma, dishing out five assists from different spots on the floor. He’s not to be confused with a point forward, and Tuesday’s performance is not the norm for him, but the do-everything junior flashed another, often-overlooked wrinkle to his game that will drive opposing coaches mad. As if his 33 points on 11-17 shooting weren’t enough to call it a night. The Hogs need more than BJ Young to win consistently in the SEC this season. On a night when Young didn’t have the touch, Powell revealed himself as the guy ready to take on that burden.
BJ Young: Clutch. It certainly wasn’t his best game—in fact, it was his lowest scoring output of the year—but the preseason SEC Player of the Year delivered when it mattered. Young’s tear-drop with 15 seconds to play after Steven Pledger’s go-ahead 3-pointer gave OU its first lead in 37 minutes held up as the clincher. What’s more, it confirmed what most Razorbacks fans already knew: Young wants, better yet needs, the ball in his hands during crunch time. Young only scored 10 points on the night, four coming in the game’s final minute. Stars can fill the stat sheet. Superstars win games on nights when they don’t. If you didn’t already, you know now under which umbrella BJ Young falls.
Osby’s 22 not enough. The senior forward and former Mississippi State transfer tallied 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He wreaked havoc inside all night, doing his best to match Powell shot for shot. The problem (other than Powell one-upping him in the back-and-forth): his frontcourt teammate [again] didn’t pull his oar. Andrew Fitzgerald was quiet again, chipping in just four points in 14 minutes of action. The Baltimore native has had a noticeably quiet—and no less disappointing—start to his senior season, averaging just a tick better than 7 points per game on 40-percent shooting. If giving up his starting role to Amath M’Baye—the Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year—still sticks in his craw, Fitzgerald needs to get over it.