Hogs Still Awful On The Road

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A South Carolina student probably spoke for lots of the 10,010 fans here in the Colonial Center after skinny Gamecocks sophomore forward Brandon Wallace slammed in the face of Arkansas freshman center Darian Townes late in Wednesday night's second half:

"I thought Arkansas was good. Man, they're horrible!"

Away from the cushy comforts of Bud Walton Arena, yes they are as this 64-52 (52!) loss vividly illustrated.

This wasn't televised back home, but you didn't miss much, folks.

Unless you dig Arkansas airballs, swatted shots, hanging heads, silly turnovers and missed opportunities.

Playing mostly against a slow-motion South Carolina 2-3 zone that helped milk the clock and sap the already sluggish Razorbacks, Arkansas (14-7, 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference) struggled from the get-go of this mind-numbing, enthusiasm-zapping setback.

"I would describe it as workmanlike," said South Carolina coach Dave Odom, who wanted to dictate the slow pace. "It certainly was not one of those exciting, double-team, pressing, shooting, up and down, back at you games."

After Townes fumbled the ball away, leading to a Josh Gonner layup that pushed South Carolina up 27-21 with one minute, 25 seconds left in the first half, Dontell Jefferson traveled.

Third-year Arkansas coach Stan Heath called timeout and Eric  Ferguson angrily lectured Jonathon  Modica about being more defensive.

A few seconds later, Tarence Kinsey's jumper made it 29-21 and Modica walked 32 seconds before intermission.

Olu Famutimi's 3-point try over Carlos Powell near the buzzer hit nothing but the top of the backboard.

It got worse.

Absolutely embarrassing.

"I saw it coming," Heath said. "Seemed like the last day-and-a-half we were flat. Tried a lot of different things to snap out of it."

On Tuesday night, the Hogs watched a motivational video and several of the older players spoke to their teammates.

"I can't really explain why we didn't have it tonight," Heath said. "We knew it was an important game."

Ronnie Brewer's banker opened the second half, but South Carolina (12-7, 4-4) pulled away on a Renaldo Balkman drive, a Balkman pass to the manly Powell for a layup, a Kinsey jumper from the left side and two Kinsey free throws.

Before you could say, "Sheesh, another road loss?" the Hogs were down - and out - at 37-23.

Fourteen points in this seemed like two touchdowns.

Points obviously were at a premium as were l-o-n-g halfcourt possessions. During Arkansas' spirited 68-67 home loss against then-No. 7 Kentucky last weekend, we barely had time to keep up with all the action in our notebooks.

Wednesday night there was extra time to doodle in margins (and write on the run; hey, at least some things were moving).

"As I said in the press conference (on Tuesday), I think they're the best young team in this league," said Odom of the Hogs.

"Tonight they didn't play well.

"Who knows why?"

Maybe everybody but Odom.

The Hogs have now lost 13 consecutive SEC road games and must cruise to Oxford for a matchup at Ole Miss on Saturday.

Unfortunately, we'll be there.

Might ask for a raise first.

These road woes are getting downright hard to watch.

The Gamecocks know where the Hogs are coming from. None of their 12 wins came on the road.

"Everybody says you can't win on the road in this league," Odom said. "I do not like that. I haven't done anything about it, either. But I do not like that. That's the easy way out.

"This team hasn't won on the road and it's time to take that step because I'm tired of it."

Frankly, South Carolina isn't very good, and the atmosphere in the Colonial Center didn't come close to the ambiance of Arkansas-Kentucky in Bud Walton Arena last Saturday.

It was nothing special, but neither were the Hogs, to say the least.

Jefferson's trey try at the buzzer was an airball, which seemed fitting as the Hogs made just 6 of 24 3-point attempts.

Arkansas still must travel to Ole Miss, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Auburn.

You can pencil in at least two Ls. Maybe four.

"We're a young team," Heath said. "That's not to make an excuse, but we've got to learn to play on the road.

"We just haven't grabbed that us against the world mentality."

To make the NCAA Tournament, the Hogs probably must net the SEC Tournament, which will be played in Atlanta, not Bud Walton Arena.

Are we there yet?

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