Charlotte men’s basketball hit the road for what was their toughest test yet—playing a nationally ranked team in their building. The 49ers kept it close early before the Razorbacks would get their rhythm en route to a 20 point Arkansas victory 86-66.
“As we are journeying, we felt it was a great opportunity to test ourselves against the best,” coach Ron Sanchez said after the game.
And it was a test as Arkansas shot 54% from the field, and several of their shots came in transition when the 49ers had little to no time to set their defense. Arkansas did a very good job denying 49er star Jahmir Young the ball and forcing him to be a passer rather than a scorer.
The 49ers gave up 20 free throws to a talented free-throw shooting squad. For a coach like Sanchez, this is not pleasing knowing the brand of basketball he wishes to play, and that is rugged defense without fouling. Ideal, yes, but not always as easy as it may seem.
The 49ers cut the game to a nine-point Razorback advantage with 5:49 remaining. And, the infamous scoring drought many are beginning to be accustomed to seeing from the 49ers happened. The next 49er points would come on a Clyde Trapp layup with 56 seconds remaining.
The narrative to this game can be largely hung on this fact alone. The 49ers were on an 11-4 run when they cut the lead to nine, but when you go on a drought of almost five minutes, a team like Arkansas will exploit that, and they did.
49er player of the game
Austin Butler had the best game for the 49ers in several aspects. Scoring was one of them as he had 14 points which led the team, but also his defense. He played anyone he was matched up on close and forced them to make quick decisions. The team will need him to continue this hot streak that Butler has going on right now, into the latter part of the non-conference slate.
The only takeaway from this game is that the 49ers can not have these scoring droughts game after game if they want to find success. It almost cost them the game against Monmouth and Appalachian State as they would have these prolonged droughts, and teams would inch their way back into games that Charlotte should have put to bed much earlier.
Back to the drawing board for Sanchez and company. 4-4 with four non-conference games remaining. The 49ers’ next game will be on the road against Valparaiso on Dec. 11 at 1 p.m.