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.
In the lane:
Mickelson gets going in second half
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Robert Morris junior guard Coron Williams (3) takes a 3-point shot over Arkansas sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson (21) during the first half Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson scored more points in the second half against Robert Morris University than he had scored in any of his previous 40 games for Arkansas to help carry the Razorbacks to a 79-74 victory Thursday night at Walton Arena.
Mickelson scored 14 of his career-high 16 points in the second half, when he played 17 minutes. He had two points in the first half, when he was limited to five minutes after picking up two fouls.
“You’ve got to keep the mind-set that you’re going to help your teammates,” said Mickelson, whose previous scoring high was 13 points against Texas Southern last season. “I was looking forward to the second half.
”I’m just happy I was able to go out there and help out.”
Mickelson finished 7 of 9 from the field after going 6 of 6 in the second half. He also had 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots and 1 steal.
Eight of his points came during a stretch when Arkansas outscored Robert Morris 20-5 in the second half that erased a four-point deficit.
“I thought Hunter in the second half was very active moving and cutting to the basket and going to the offensive glass,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “He continues to evolve.”
Arkansas sophomore guard Ky Madden started and played the first four minutes, but then spent the rest of game on the bench. He had two turnovers.
“He was a little gimpy,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “He twisted his ankle the other day, and we wanted to see if he could go, and i just didn’t think he was active and engaged as everybody else.
“That means the next guy has got to step up and play.”
Junior Rickey Scott started the second half in Madden’s place and junior Fred Gulley — in his second game with the Razorbacks after transferring from Oklahoma State last year — played 18 minutes, including 11 in the second half.
“I thought our guys trusted Fred with the ball and he got the ball to the right people,” Anderson said. “He didn’t get rattled.”
Costly free throws
Arkansas came into Thursday night’s game shooting 72.1 percent from the free throw line to rank fourth in the SEC, but the Razorbacks shot a seasonlow 50 percent (13 of 26).
Sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson was the only Razorback to hit two consecutive free throws. Junior forward Marshawn Powell, shooting 81.1 percent on the season (30 of 37), missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities. Sophomore guard BJ Young scored 23 points, but was 4 of 8 on free throws.
“We’ve been a pretty good free-throw shooting team, but there’s always going to be those couple nights where you might not have it going,” Mickelson said. “I guess that was tonight for us. But we’ll get in the gym and keep working and get better.”
Robert Morris senior point guard Velton Jones, a four-year starter who came into the Arkansas game averaging a team-high 12.3 points and 5.4 assists, played 17 minutes because of foul problems. He had three fouls in the first half, when he played four minutes, and finished 1 of 6 from the field with 3 points and 4 turnovers.
“That’s huge for us because Velton is a big playmaker for us and a guy that handles the ball,” Robert Morris Coach Andrew Toole said. “ ... Velton’s a guy that really gets us going offensively, and when you lose a guy like that for such an extended period of time, It’s going to make your game plan difficult to execute.”
Like old times
Arkansas junior guards Fred Gulley and Kikko Haydar, who were teammates at Fayetteville High School, collaborated on a scoring play in the second half when Gulley had an assist on Haydar’s threepoint basket.
“I think I had a flashback from high school,” Gulley said. “Kikko’s man stepped over and I kicked it to him. I told him afterward, ‘I knew you were going to make it.’ I had a lot of confidence in him, and he knocked it down.”
What’s in a name?
Robert Morris, located in Moon, Pa., in suburban Pittsburgh, is named after one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Morris, a merchant, served as a senator in the first U.S. Federal Congress.
Sports, Pages 23 on 12/21/2012