FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas didn’t just lose a game in Wednesday night’s 79-77 SEC loss to South Carolina but lost what three customary starters normally would do in Thursday’s practice.
As the 15-5 overall, 3-4 in the SEC Razorbacks began readying for Saturday’s 5 p.m SEC Network SEC game with the Alabama Crimson Tide, 12-8, 4-3 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., senior graduate transfer point guard Jimmy Whitt couldn’t practice, sophomore guard Isaiah Joe was limited and sophomore guard Desi Sills practicing but with pain.
Whitt, who has started all 20 games, played 36 minutes Wednesday night but was limping at the finish upon being kneed in the calf.
Joe played 35:39 against South Carolina despite being considered questionable up until game time having missed last Saturday’s 78-67 SEC vs. Big 12 Challenge victory over TCU because painful inflammation in a knee.
Sills had to be helped off the court spraining his ankle with 2:37 left in Wednesday’s first half but returned to play 15 second half minutes.
“We have three guys that are hurt,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said after Thursday’s practice. “Jimmy did the least. He’s actually the guy we’re most worried about. Desi sprained his ankle, so it’s never going to feel good the next day. Isaiah did about, I don’t know, maybe 40 percent of practice today. Jimmy basically did none.”
Musselman Thursday said the three have 48 hours to heal before
“I would say hopeful, that’s the best way to put it,” Musselman said again citing Whitt is the one with availability appearing most in jeopardy
Even if Musselman had wanted a long, tough Thursday practice in the wake of Wednesday’s loss, the three ailing Razorbacks compounded by Arkansas’ lack of depth would have prevented it.
It wasn’t his intention anyway even as his early evening press conference closed “an obviously long day.”
“You come back the next day there is lot of film work,” Musselman said. “There is not a lot of at this juncture coming and pounding bodies. But we obviously had a long day with some film, some execution of stuff on the floor and then started our Alabama prep.”
Musselman was asked if he had talked Thursday with Hays Myers, listed as a special assistant on his staff who was slapped with a technical foul, apparently for standing up and whirling around when foul was called on Arkansas forward Reggie Chaney,
Postgame Wednesday Musselman said, “Not happy at all. You lose by two at home in a game that has got extreme significance and a staff member gets a technicaaaafl. “
On Thursday Musselman said of Myers, whom he worked with when both were on Johnny Jones’ LSU staff then hired on his staffs at Nevada and Arkansas: “We just kind of handle it internally. I got to have a conversation with somebody and kind of leave it at that. It’s unfortunate it happened. We win as a family we lose as a family and then you move on. I think he’s an incredible worker. I was with him at LSU and I was with him at Nevada. He cares. It happened, gotta address it obviously and then move on.”
Musselman was pleased his normally struggling to rebound Hogs matched a good South Carolina rebounding team, 36-36 on the boards.
But he implied the Hogs took too many threes (7 of 26) given they’ve only hit 147 of 472 for a .311 percentage and just 50 of 166 for a .301 percentage in SEC games.
“We have to have better shot selections from three,” Musselman said. “I think we’re 282nd in the country in threes, so if you’re anywhere from 150 below, you probably got to continue to make adjustments. We can’t keep taking a high volume of threes if we’re going to be, as a group, 280th in the country.”
Even with 26 threes attempted, the Hogs so effectively drove inside to attempt 40 free against the frequently fouling Gamecocks Wednesday.
“We’ve done a really good job of taking it to the basket and drawing free throws,” Musselman said. “ I think that’s got to be a higher priority for us, finding a way to get to the cup and finding a way to draw free throws attempted.”