Anderson Calling for Consistency from Hogs
The first full week in February could not have been more of a roller coaster ride for Arkansas basketball.
A monumental high in beating No. 2 Florida was short lived after another tough road loss at Vanderbilt. Mike Anderson and the Hogs can only focus on the future, which happens to be another road game at Auburn Wednesday.
The two teams met once so far this year Jan. 16 in a double-overtime thriller, the Hogs eventually prevailing 88-80. That game was a turning point in the Tigers’ season, as they went on to lose six of their next seven and now sit at 9-14 (3-7) in the SEC.
Arkansas’ loss at Vanderbilt was as puzzling a loss the team has had all season. The Hogs saw a season low in points with 49, a season low in field goal percentage at 30 percent and Marshawn Powell being a non-factor because of foul trouble. All against a Vanderbilt team they beat by 23 points in Bud Walton Arena nearly a month ago.
Another loss is now in the past, and Mike Anderson made it clear what he wants to see from his team Wednesday.
“More than anything else, you’ve got to be consistent for 40 minutes,” Anderson said.
Defense and taking care of the basketball have been focal points in road game preparation, two things the Hogs have done well in Bud Walton Arena but somehow aren’t capable of on the road.
For the Hogs to get their first road win, Powell needs to play a substantial role in Arkansas’ game plan. Powell only played 17 minutes against Vanderbilt after early foul trouble, and finished with five points on only four field goal attempts. Powell had his second best scoring night of the season against Auburn in January, finishing with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
As the Razorbacks’ most dependable scoring threat, Powell needs to play well and show leadership at Auburn to improve the team’s confidence. As the Hogs fought back against Vanderbilt in the second half, Powell reached in on a drive to the basket to pick up his fourth foul, sending him back to the bench and taking the wind out of Arkansas’ sails for the rest of the game.
“He’s got to be smart enough to know when and when not (to foul) especially with the kind of fouls he’s getting,” Anderson said.
BJ Young also needs to show more consistency, after going scoreless in the second half against Vanderbilt. He has good competition at Auburn with Frankie Sullivan and Chris Denson, two upperclassmen guards leading the Tigers’ scoring threat.
Auburn’s second leading scorer Denson missed the first matchup against the Hogs this season with a stress fracture, but has proved he’s a threat with a 15 point performance against Kentucky Feb. 9.
“He gets to the free throw line, and he’s very aggressive,” Anderson said. “He gives them more depth.”
The only road win for the Razorbacks last season was at Auburn Feb. 25, 2012, as Arkansas ventured into Auburn Arena and came away with a 77-71 victory. Anderson made it clear that the two teams facing off this year aren’t the same as in the past, but hopes that last year’s win gives the guys a confidence advantage.
“Maybe those guys can reach back on those memories,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, consistency on both ends of the court can put the Hogs over the hump and get their first road victory at Auburn.