The No. 9 Arkansas Razorbacks’ defense has been the team’s strength thus far this season, and that remained evident in its SEC conference opener against LSU. Despite allowing just 60 points, the Razorbacks still lost.
It wasn’t just that Eric Musselman’s squad didn’t allow LSU to score, but it smothered the Tigers’ every shot attempt and put pressure on their ball handlers. The most impressive feat, though, was how Arkansas limited LSU star forward KJ Williams.
Entering the game against the Razorbacks, Williams was averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In fact, the Murray State transfer had scored in double figures in every game this season except one leading up to Wednesday’s matchup.
Arkansas managed to hold Williams to just eight points and five rebounds, and also just his second game under ten field goal attempts. The 6-foot-10 forward is the Tigers’ leading scorer and accounts for over a quarter of their scoring output each game, so stopping his scoring gave the Razorbacks a great chance to win.
That defensive effort spread into the rest of the game, as well. The 60 points were a season low for LSU, the 40.3% field goal percentage was the second-lowest, the 23.5% three-point percentage was the third lowest and the 12 free throw attempts were the fewest. The Razorbacks stymied anything LSU did offensively, yet still couldn’t bring home the win.
Arkansas entered the LSU game 31-0 when allowing teams to score just 60 points or fewer.
While the performance gave credence to the Razorbacks’ 7th-ranked defensive efficiency ranking on KenPom, it also shows that the offense needs to hone its identity more with two key players out in Nick Smith Jr. and Trevon Brazile.