Hogs Focus on Ball Security for Mississippi State
After last Saturday’s loss at Ole Miss, Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson is trying to make sure all areas of his basketball team are squeaky clean.
“Its amazing, we clean up one area in terms of defending and rebounding and then we didn’t take care of the ball, and I think that really cost us in the Ole Miss game,” Anderson said.
Indeed, the Hogs were able to hang in the rebounding and field goal percentage categories with Ole Miss, but gave away a season-high 19 turnovers to the Rebels. Arkansas was able to hang close at some points, but ultimately couldn’t get defensive stops down the stretch against red-hot Ole Miss, who prevailed 76-64 to go 4-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1936-37 season.
“Even with seven minutes to go it was a seven-point game, and at that time we got to make stops, and we didn’t make the appropriate stops,” Anderson said.
Despite another aggravating road loss, Southeastern Conference play continues on as Arkansas hosts Mississippi State in Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are 7-9 (2-2 in SEC play) and have been undermanned and undersized all season. They have only 10 players on the roster, none of whom stand above 6 feet 9 inches. Junior Jalen Steele is the Bulldogs leading scorer at 11.1 points per game, and freshman Gavin Ware is their biggest post player and leading rebounder, averaging 7.1 rebounds a game.
Marshawn Powell talked about how getting MSU’s big men in foul trouble would be a priority for the Razorbacks early in the game.
“The quicker we do that the better, it gives us more advantage we would have on the inside for the rest of the game,” said Powell.
Powell and Hunter Mickelson both had success in the paint against Ole Miss, combining for 26 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday. Keeping up that level of play could be the determining factor against undersized MSU, who will have to rely mostly on outside shooting as it is.
Anderson made it clear that the team has the chance to play guys off the bench against Mississippi State. Jacorey Williams, Coty Clarke, Ky Madden and Kikko Haydar continue to see increased minutes, and Anderson feels that the Hogs bench depth will be a strength heading further into SEC play. Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell are also two options Anderson would like to see going forward.
“I want to see more guys get involved to really get that tempo up and hopefully get the point production up,” Anderson said.
Anybody who has watched the Hogs play this year know that, like last year, they have struggled on the road, where they have been unable to play the same level of basketball that they do in Bud Walton Arena.
“That’s part of the progression of this team, you try and fix certain areas,” Anderson said.
Playing a more wholesome style of basketball is all that the Razorbacks need, and Anderson is making sure the team is constantly taking steps toward the goal of doing everything the right way.