Slow Starts Have Hogs Playing From Behind

BATON ROUGE — Too often, in too many different locales, Gary Ervin has participated in lackluster starts. These rusty openings to games, and sometimes second halves, have put Arkansas at a disadvantage.

It happened at Florida. It occurred at Ole Miss. It developed at South Carolina. And now, it transpired at LSU. En route to a 71-67 victory Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, the Tigers stormed out to a 17-6 after the first seven minutes, 16 seconds. They also outscored the Hogs 24-15 over the first 10 minutes of the second half. "We kind of get out to a slow start (a lot on the road)," Ervin said. "We're always caught playing catch-up. We need to fix that on the road." For the Razorbacks, it's getting dangerously close to being too late to change. Granted, Arkansas' 4-6 record in the Southeastern Conference Western Division places them in second place, just one game behind Alabama and Ole Miss. But to move up in the West, the Hogs (15-9) must take care of business consistently on the road. And their track record doesn't lead to positive thoughts. Their loss Saturday left them fuming. Yelling could be heard from the locker room immediately following the loss. The Hogs are 1-4 in their SEC road games, their lone victory a 63-57 victory on Jan. 27 at Alabama. In each of those four defeats, Arkansas dug first-half deficits, failing to show up with a consistent amount of desire and intensity. Arkansas forward Charles Thomas was at a loss trying to describe the Razorbacks' sluggish opening Saturday. "I honestly don't know," Thomas said. "I couldn't tell you. It falls on the heart of the indivdual. As a team leader, I need to step up." In Saturday's opening stages, Arkansas left LSU guard Terry Martin open to hit his first three 3-point attempts. The Razorbacks missed seven of their first 10 shots. They missed a full-strength center, one who normally sets the tone with his shot-blocking ability. "It hurt us a lot (not having Steven at full strength)," Ervin said. The first part of the second half was just as lackadaisical for the Hogs, forcing Arkansas into the prospect of crucial possessions in the final minutes. "We had several opportunities where we had a chance to take the lead or make a play, and it just seems like we didn't make the big play," Heath said. Had the Razorbacks gotten going earlier, that may not have mattered.

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