A late rally from the Duke basketball team could not erase a soft performance.
They tried to make it interesting at the end of regulation but the Duke basketball team could not mount an improbable rally in the final two minutes against Arkansas because how soft they played on Wednesday night in Fayetteville.
It was arguably the most anticipated matchup of the inaugural ACC vs. SEC Challenge and the Blue Devils never showed up for the game.
Arkansas, after a back-and-forth first half, seized control of the game in the second half and extended its lead to as many as 14 points, 67-53, with 6:32 left.
From that point, Duke would outscore the Razorbacks 22-13 but it was still not enough as the ‘Hogs were able to barely close out an 80-75 victory.
The pressure the Blue Devils would put on Arkansas was too much for Eric Mussleman’s team to handle and turnovers in the backcourt were leading to easy baskets as Duke was able to get the lead down to three, 78-75, with 17.8 seconds remaining.
Caleb Foster missed a 3-pointer with Duke trailing by four, 79-75, with 9.3 seconds remaining and one more free throw from the Razorbacks was able to seal the victory as the sold-out crowd was ready to rush the floor.
The No. 7 Blue Devils (5-2) just simply were not prepared to play in front of the largest crowed in the history of Bud Walton Arena.
They were tentative, soft in the paint, and unwilling to put the extra effort needed to play traditional Duke basketball.
Arkansas (5-3), who did not have its leading scorer Tramon Mark (back) available, fed off the energy of the crowd and its role players, as expected, performed much better in the comforts of their own gym than they did in the three games the team played in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Kahlif Battle and Trevon Brazile were the only ‘Hogs to reach double figures with 21 and 19 points, respectively, as the team blocked 10 shots and came away with six steals.
Duke basketball only has two players show up
Tyrese Proctor was the only other player to make a field goal after halftime other than the duo.
The Blue Devils shot 35.8-percent from the field, 27.3-percent from 3-point range, and 67.7-percent from the free throw line.
There are a lot of questions to answer for this Duke team and not a lot of time to sulk in this loss as ACC play begins on Saturday (2:15 p.m. ET, The CW) with a trip to Georgia Tech (3-2).