Everyone in the Arkansas locker room agreed that effort was not the problem Saturday in a 73-68 loss to Florida at Bud Walton Arena. It was lack of accuracy on shooting that cost the Hogs.
"We just couldn't hit anything," said Matt Jones, pointing to the Hogs' 2 of 25 shooting from 3-point range. "What's normal – 35 percent. Give us that and we win going away. I think we had the looks."
Was it nervousness, or Florida's tough zone defense?
"I can't speak for the whole team, but I wasn't tight or nervous," said Jonathon "Pookie" Modica. "Youk think we were nervous? If the team was nervous, we need to get that out of our system by next Wednesday."
Modica preferred to think it was Florida's aggressiveness on defense.
"I've watched a lot of tape on them and never have I seen them extend their defense and play that aggressive in their zone," Modica said. "Give them credit. They took it to us.
"When you see a team extend like that, you think you should be able to penetrate and kick to shooters. We didn't do that too well, but when we did and got good looks, they didn't fall. We just couldn't hit anything. Part of that is them and part of that is us."
Ronnie Brewer was the only Razorback to find the range. He canned 7 of 13 from the field, hit 9 of 12 from the line and aided the UA cause with six steals.
"We didn't shoot well, but the thing that you have to say is that we didn't cause them many problems on defense until the end," Brewer said. "We gave them too many open looks. They hit their shots and hit a great percentage."
Billy Donovan, the Florida coach, said the Gators took advantage of Arkansas' perimeter pressure to work the ball inside, especially in the first half.
"Arkansas put a lot of pressure on Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson outside and they had to become passers," Donovan said. "We were able to get the ball inside because they took care of the ball. Arkansas did a good job with that pressure and got some turnovers. That was the tradeoff. They got some transition points with that pressure, but it enabled us to get it inside more."
Arkansas played almost all the way with its man-to-man defense after playing mostly zone for the bulk of the SEC season.
"Stan Heath knows his players better than me," Donovan said. "We've been a perimeter team mostly this year without much of a low post presence outside of David Lee. They probably thought that was the way to play us. But our guards handled it and got it inside."
Arkansas now has a home game Wednesday against Alabama and a road trip with Ole Miss left in the regular season. If the Hogs are to make it to postseason play beyond the SEC tournament, they likely need to win both.
"That's our season now, winning against Alabama and Ole Miss," Modica said. "If we are going to be able to remember this season for something, we need to win those two games. We have to buckle down."
Olu Famutimi, who was 4 of 11 shooting, knows what needs to happen before Wednesday.
"Lots of time in the gym working on our shot," Famutimi said. "That's what we need. We have to find our shooting before Wednesday. That's all I know. Lots of shooting."
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