Anderson Seeks Another Strong Defensive Effort
After defeating Vanderbilt 56-33 for the first Southeastern Conference victory of the season last Saturday, UA head coach Mike Anderson wants to focus on shutting down key players in the home matchup against Auburn Wednesday.
The Tigers will come into Bud Walton Arena with an 8-7 overall record and a perfect 2-0 record in SEC play.
“They’re putting it together at the right time,” Anderson said. “In basketball, there are no surprises to me anymore. Fans may look at a team’s nonconference schedule, but as coaches, we look at the personnel they have.”
Senior guard Frankie Sullivan leads the Tigers with 17.2 points per game. Last season, Sullivan scored 25 points in two games against Arkansas.
“We’re very familiar with Sullivan,” Anderson said. “He’s a dynamic scorer and a fifth-year senior, so his leadership is important for his team.”
Rob Chubb has also been “playing extremely well” for Auburn down low, Anderson said, averaging 9.7 points per game and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds per game.
While Anderson is not happy with his team’s recent offensive performance, he is not worried about it. Despite only scoring 51 points and 56 points against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, respectively, he believes they will turn it around.
“We just haven’t made shots,” Anderson said. “I thought we’ve had some good looks; we just haven’t knocked them down.”
Sophomore guard BJ Young is averaging 17.1 points per game and junior forward Marshawn Powell is averaging 14.3 points per game. However, no other player is averaging over 7.4 points per game.
“We have to have a third and fourth scorer,” Anderson said. “Our team is built on balance, so we have to have some guys step up.”
He points to freshman guard Anthlon Bell as a player who could step into a larger scoring role. Bell is only averaging 4.3 points per game, but Anderson said he has been practicing well and needs to transfer it into games.
“I think Anthlon Bell is a guy that’s about to burst onto the scene,” Anderson said. “He puts himself in position to take good shots.”
Defensively, the Razorbacks are coming off of their best defensive performance of the season, holding Vanderbilt to only 33 points, their fewest points allowed in a game since joining the SEC.
This bodes well for Arkansas, as Auburn plays a similar “mid-tempo” style of basketball, Anderson said.
“We want to build some momentum and continue to play that harassing style of defense,” Anderson said.
Although only 11,526 fans attended the Vanderbilt game, Anderson expects the crowd for the Auburn game to be larger because UA students are back in class.
“More than anything else, I like the energy of the crowd,” Anderson said. “They’re very vocal.”
The Razorbacks and Tigers tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Bud Walton Arena.