No. 18 Arkansas hosted Texas A&M on Tuesday, and the first half couldn’t have gone much better for the Razorbacks. Heck, they almost doubled up the Aggies and led 49-26 at the break.
Then, well, then the second half happened. Texas A&M outscored Arkansas 49-32 to close to within two points in the final minutes. In the end, however, the Razorbacks emerged with an 81-75 victory.
“We just played comfortable and lost focus and let them beat us on the boards,” Arkansas senior forward Alandise Harris said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench, referring to the second-half letdown. “We just weren’t playing with energy and the game got a lot closer. We had to bunker down.”
They did – and Harris was a big part of that, finishing with 11 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals and four blocks.
“I just do what I can to help the team,” Harris said. “I’m big defensively. That’s what I take pride in. From the jump, from the start of the game, I want to get a stop. I’m all about defense.”
Arkansas finished with 12 blocks and 12 steals. Heck, Moses Kingsley even had three swats off the bench for the Razorbacks.
“That’s our game,” Harris said. “We try to get out there defensively, block shots, rebound and run and get easy buckets.”
Arkansas did a great job sharing the ball and finished with 21 assists – almost twice as many as A&M (21). Nine different Razorbacks had at least one assist, and four had at least three. Guard Rashad Madden finished with a game-high five.
“We thrive on ball movement and execution,” Harris said. “I’m just going to hit the open guy. I’m going to get it there when he’s open. That way he can do something with it.”
Arkansas shot 50.9 percent from the field and 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) from three, overcoming a 28-point performance from Aggies junior guard Danuel House, who hit five triples.
“That was just us losing focus,” Harris said. “I even got lost a couple times on Danuel House. We switched and I just got lost helping too much. We all did the same thing. It was just mental breakdowns. It was all because . . . we were up and we were just playing comfortable.”
The Razorbacks certainly won’t have that problem in their next game. They face No. 1 Kentucky (27-0, 14-0) this Saturday at Rupp Arena at 4 p.m. ET.
Can Arkansas actually pull off the upset?
“It’s very possible,” Harris said. “We did it before. There ain’t no reason we can’t do it again.”
While Kentucky is clearly the top team in the SEC – and the country – Arkansas is no slouch, either. After all, this is a team that could make a run at 30 wins. Do people not recognize how good the Razorbacks are?
“Yeah, they recognize, but they don’t believe yet,” Harris said. “They see it, but they just don’t believe. We just have to make them believe.”
Taking down Goliath would do just that.
“It would mean a lot to Razorback Nation,” Harris said. “But to us, it would just be a game that we feel we can win. We beat them last year two times. It would just be another win for us.”