COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It’s a new year. And a new team.
But no matter how much Arkansas vowed things had changed, it sure looked an awful lot like Razorback road teams of old at Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
The Razorbacks, who were confident they would get off to a fast start on the road in their Southeastern Conference opener, turned in another ugly performance during a 69-51 loss in front of an announced crowd of 5,539 in Texas A&M’s Reed Arena.
Arkansas (9-5, 0-1 in SEC) shot 42.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from the free-throw line. The Razorbacks struggled to get out in transition against a physical half-court opponent, were plagued by personal fouls once again, and beaten soundly on the glass (51-27) by Texas A&M (11-3, 1-0 in SEC).
It led to Arkansas’ worst loss of the season, eclipsing the 15-point defeat against Arizona State on Nov. 23. It also set the mark for the lowest scoring performance of the season, topping the 67 points in its first road game – the loss at Michigan.
Texas A&M hasn’t been unbeatable at home this season, suffering a 53-51 loss to Southern on Dec. 22. But Fabyon Harris scored 17 points and Elston Turner added 15 to lead the Aggies to their first win as an SEC member. Arkansas, meanwhile, saw its five-game win streak end and its road record under Anderson dip to 1-11.
The troubles began in the opening minutes when Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell picked up two quick fouls and went to the bench with 14:15 remaining. He did not play the rest of the half, although Arkansas showed some promise behind guard BJ Young in building a 21-16 lead against the Aggies.
But the success quickly unraveled behind missed free throws, personal fouls and rebounding woes. Texas A&M took advantage of Arkansas’ shortcomings to end the first half on a 13-3 run, taking a 29-24 lead into the locker room despite shooting just 31.3 percent from the field. Turner scored the biggest bucket, knocking down a 3-pointer in the closing minutes to tie the game at 24-24 and kick off a 15-0 run that continued into the second half with an offensive rebound and another 3-pointer.
On the other end of the floor, Powell turned the ball over and it led to two free throws by Harris to give the Aggies a 36-24 lead. It was a sign of things to come.
Powell — Arkansas’ second-leading scorer — struggled throughout the game.
The junior was scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting Wednesday night. He also committed five turnovers in a season-low 12 minutes. Powell hadn’t gone scoreless since playing one minute against Texas Southern during the 2010-11 season.
But Powell wasn’t the only Arkansas player to take the blame for the disappointment. Everyone had a hand in the rebounding woes, where Texas A&M turned 19 offensive rebounds into 21 second-chance points. The same could be said at the free-throw line, where five players combined to go 4-for-15 from the stripe.
Young, who scored 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting, was the only Arkansas players in double figures Wednesday night. The other four starters — Powell, Hunter Mickelson, Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott — combined to score 15.
The loss dropped Arkansas coach Mike Anderson to 0-7 against Texas A&M in his coaching career. It also put the Razorbacks in an early hole in SEC play.
Arkansas will try to rebound from the loss in its SEC home opener against Vanderbilt on Saturday night.