Arkansas Lets Possible Road Win Slip Away

STARKVILLE, MISS. -- Arkansas entered Saturday's game at Mississippi State a team still with plenty to prove. According to most onlookers, the biggest task for the Razorbacks still left to tackle in 2005-06 was to show they could hit the road in the Southeastern Conference and consistently -- or at the very least, more than rarely -- come away with wins.

In front of a rockin' and ready to roll crowd of 7,043 in 'The Hump', lesser known as Humphrey Coliseum -- Arkansas (11-3, 0-1) had its share of chances to put to rest, for the time being, the talk that this team couldn't win enough games, or any games, inside another team's comfy confines.

But instead of putting away the apparently lesser-talented Bulldogs (11-3, 1-0), Arkansas struggled in the first half with defense, then shot itself in the foot in the second half with poor free-throw shooting.

Result -- A 69-67 Mississippi State win on a Dietric Slater transition layup with :09.1 left to play.

Oh, the Razorbacks had a chance at the end, but Charles Thomas' 3-point attempt just before the buzzer (yes, Charles Thomas) rimmed in and out, leaving the Maroon and White cheering for joy.

No win for the Hogs. Just more talk of, 'Can and will this team win on the road in the SEC?'

"We cannot let this get us down," said Arkansas sophomore center Steven Hill, who matched a career high with 10 points Saturday. "This is just one game. January is a big month for us. We've got to win Wednesday (against LSU) and here on out. So we've got to keep our head on straight.

"One loss is not going to kill us."

Hill is right. This year especially, the SEC looks to be a league where one road loss won't kill anyone.

But having that win sure would have been nice. Especially when it appeared within reach.

"We really thought we could come in here and get a win out," Hill said. "But it didn't fall our way. But I'm sure we'll bounce back.

"Our next road game is a ways down the road, so we've just got to go back and get these wins at home next week."

The Razorbacks were playing their first true road game of the season Saturday. Meaning the loss to the Bulldogs was the first time this season Arkansas stepped inside another team's home venue.

But not all of the Hogs were convinced 'The Hump' had all that much to do with Arkansas winding up on the losing end.

"I'm not even going to get into all of that because any time you go away from you're home gym, that's a road game," said Razorbacks senior guard Jonathan Modica. "So we've played some road games. That wasn't a big deal."

Big deal or not, Arkansas struggled to find its shooting touch in the first half (12 of 33 from the field), had problems all night with the Bulldogs on the boards (outrebounded, 45-34) and were woeful at the foul line (10-for-21), especially with the game on the line.

Whether the road had anything to do with this, who knows for sure.

Check back Jan. 18 when Arkansas hits the road again at Alabama and perhaps more answers will be provided.

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