Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
ARKANSAS MEN’S BASKETBALL:
Arkansas’ depth makes impression
Arkansas' bench looks on during a win over Oklahoma on Dec. 4.
FAYETTEVILLE Alcorn State Coach Luther Riley is getting a good feel for SEC basketball this season.
Arkansas beat the Braves 97-59 Saturday night in Walton Arena in Alcorn State’s third SEC road stop. Earlier this season the Braves lost at No. 12 Missouri 91-54 and at Mississippi State 60-42.
“I think Arkansas has some things that are going to make them tough in the SEC,” Riley said. “Their depth at the guard position is impressive, the way they can pressure you on defense, and they’ve got [Marshawn] Powell , [Hunter] Mickelson and [Coty] Clarke up front, too.
“I think depth is going to be their story all season.”
It was the story Saturday night when 13 Razorbacks scored, led by Powell’s 18 points in 19 minutes. Clarke had 14 points off the bench and Mickelson had eight points. The Razorbacks also got 29 points from their four freshmen, led by forward Michael Qualls’ 10 points.
Sophomore guard BJ Young, the Razorbacks’ leading scorer coming into the game averaging 18.0 points, scored a season-low 5 points in 18 minutes Saturday night on 2-of-4 shooting.
“Young didn’t get going, we kind of held him at bay,” Riley said. “But they’ve got so many other good guards it didn’t matter.”
Arkansas’ guard depth got a boost Saturday night with the addition of junior Fred Gulley, who is made his Razorbacks debut after transferring from Oklahoma State a year ago. Gulley had 5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 13 minutes without a turnover.
“He just played his role,” Riley said. “He attacked, kicked it out, hit a wide-open three. He pressured the ball.
“I think he’ll be a real added help for them here.”
Riley said Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson’s frequent substitutions can make it difficult for the opposing team.
“You really have to pay a lot of attention to who’s coming into the game and know your scouting report,” Riley said. “Who can shoot, who can’t, who’s going to attack.”
Before playing Alcorn State, the Razorbacks had faced Arizona State, Wisconsin, No. 4 Syracuse, Oklahoma and No. 3 Michigan in consecutive games.
“They’ve played some toughpeople, and you can tell they’re getting better,” Riley said. “If you’re going to compete against a team like Arkansas you’ve got to bring it every possession.”
Riley said he believes Arkansas can match up well against Missouri, where Anderson coached for five seasons before taking the Razorbacks job last year.
The Tigers, who play Arkansas twice, are led by junior point guard Phil Pressey, the pre-season SEC Player of the Year who was recruited to Missouri by Anderson. Pressey scored 21 points against Alcorn State.
“Pressey is a great player, no doubt,” Riley said. “But he’d better be in good shape, because Arkansas is going to attack him offensively and defensively.
“With the way Arkansas plays, they’re going to force a lot of the other teams’ players to make decisions that they’re not accustomed to making.”
Sports, Pages 15 on 12/17/2012