Outworked, Outhustled, Outmatched

AUBURN, Ala. — The first dozen offensive rebounds snagged by Auburn embarrassed Arkansas' players and maddened Razorbacks coach Stan Heath.

But No. 13 — the 13th before halftime, mind you — did even more damage during Arkansas' 67-59 loss Wednesday night in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

Quantez Robertson, the smallest man on the floor for Auburn, shook free from Gary Ervin, soared high into the air and tipped in a miss at the halftime buzzer.

"The whole picture was painted on the last possession of the first half when they got that stick-back from the guard," Heath said.

"In a lot of ways this game was real simple. They just beat us pretty bad on the glass."

The acrobatic tip put Auburn up 32-25 at halftime, making all of the momentum Arkansas had built up during a 7-0 spurt vanish. The Razorbacks' hopes for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth may have faded, as well, before a paltry, announced crowd of 4,551.

Simply put, the Tigers (15-13, 5-8) outworked and outhustled the Razorbacks (16-11, 5-8), sending them to their sixth loss in seven SEC road games.

Afterward, after being outrebounded 43-31, Arkansas forward Charles Thomas couldn't lie. He had to be honest about the Razorbacks' fight, or lack thereof.

He uttered a phrase the Hogs all seem to regurgitate after road defeats at Florida, Ole Miss, South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State.

"You really can't say anything other than that they played harder and they wanted it more," Thomas said.

Granted, rebounding wasn't the entire downfall for Arkansas.

The Hogs missed 15 of their 18 3-point attempts. They allowed 31 Auburn free-throw attempts. They panicked when Auburn repeatedly double-teamed in the post.

Most importantly, though, they flashed little aggressiveness once the Tigers launched shots. Even more surprising to Heath, the majority of Auburn's first-half offensive rebounds came from unlikely sources.

"They hurt us the most in the first half because our guards weren't boxing out," Heath said. "If you look at the numbers, I think they had eight offensive rebounds from the guard position at halftime. That's an incredible number — way too much."

Those rebounds had an adverse effect on the Razorbacks' offense. Usually, Arkansas jump-starts its fast-breaks with defensive rebounds.

"It took away our transition game and that hurt," Heath said.

Auburn's players credited a practice drill titled "War Football" for the impressive rebounding performance.

"It's been like football practice," Auburn's Josh Dollard said. "The guards have been getting beat down, and the big men have been getting beat down. People have been getting scratches and swells."

Collectively, the Razorbacks — guards and post players — didn't show the same desire or match the intensity.

Despite outnumbering Auburn four to zero in players 6-foot-10 or taller, Arkansas couldn't keep Auburn from earning second- and third-chances.

As the first half revealed, size didn't seem to matter much. A total lack of urgency did.

"Coach (Heath) chewed us out," Ervin said. "I don't blame him."

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