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.
BJ’s back; plays like old Young
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young, center, drives to the lane past Longwood freshman forward Karl Ziegler (20) Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena.
FAYETTEVILLE Sophomore guard BJ Young didn’t have to knock off any rust Sunday when he returned to the court for the Arkansas Razorbacks after serving a two-game suspension.
Young, an All-SEC pick, scored 23 points in 20 minutes and added 5 assists without a turnover to lead Arkansas to a 112-63 victory over Longwood University at Walton Arena before an announced crowd of 5,835.
“It felt good to be back out there with the team, helping the team, contributing any way that I can,” Young said. “It just felt good to be back out there playing in front of the fans, too.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson suspended Young for the Razorbacks’ second exhibition game against LeMoyne-Owen College and their regular-season opener against Sam Houston State for violation of an unspecified team rule.
Young continued to take part in team activities and watched the LeMoyne-Owen and Sam Houston State games from the Arkansas bench.
“Of course, it hurt,” Young said of having to sit out. “But it’s in the past. I paid for it.
“Now I’m back. I’m ready to help these guys and move forward.”
The Razorbacks struggled to beat Sam Houston State 73-68 without Young, who scored 16 points in the first half against Longwood to help Arkansas take a 55-34 lead.
“I thought BJ had an efficient game,” Anderson said. “You might have thought there would be some rust there, but he was hungry to play.
“You can see our team is a totally different team with him out there.”
Young, who hit 10 of 16 shots, was in the starting lineup Sunday after primarily playing off the bench last season.
“He controls the game,” Longwood Coach Mike Gillian said. “That’s just the best way to put it.
“When you’re able to do that, you sort of transcend yourself from being a really good player to a great teammate and a great player.
“The greatest players make everybody around them better, and that’s kind of what he’s doing there. To do that at that level, all the other guys are going to benefit from playing with him.”
Junior forward Marshawn Powell and freshman guard Anthlon Bell added 16 points each for the Razorbacks.
“BJ brings a lot of energy,” Bell said. “He can score in different ways. Also, he’s become more of a leader in my eyes. ... He’s talking to players and telling them what they can do better to help the team.”
Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade said last week that Young was competing in practice as if he were playing in a game.
“I was taking practice super serious,” Young said. “People were like, ‘Man, I’ve never seen him this serious in practice.’
“I think that helped the team out a lot, too. It helped other guys keep their energy level up in practice and they helped me out a lot.
“They helped me keep my head focused and ready for the game to come up. I love these guys and the coaching staff.”
Arkansas’ five starters - Young, Powell, Wade, Hunter Mickelson and Ky Madden - came out of Sunday’s game with 13:34 left and the Razorbacks ahead 94-57.
Young and the other starters cheered on the reserves, jumping up and down and waving towels much of the time.
“It was fun,” Young said. “I don’t want to say it was funner on the bench than it was on the court, but those guys were exciting.
“I’m talking and - Whoa! I’d see a dunk, see a dunk, see a steal, see a dunk. I couldn’t sit down, really. It was fun watching guys come in right behind you and match your energy.”
Anderson called it a “great team effort” by the Razorbacks.
“We paid attention to some of the little details that we didn’t do in the first game,” Anderson said. “The focus was totally different.
“We attacked the glass and shared the basketball and brought a lot of energy to the table.”
Young was especially energetic.
“BJ certainly is a talent, but I think the great thing about it is, he’s getting things done in the confines of what we do,” Anderson said. “I think that’s the beauty of the deal.”
RECORDS Arkansas 2-0; Longwood 0-3
STARS Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young (23 points, 5 assists), junior forward Marshawn Powell (16 points) and freshman guard Anthlon Bell (16 points).
TURNING POINT Arkansas used a 12-0 run to take 26-10 lead with 9:49 left in the first half.
KEY STAT Arkansas scored 47 points off 28 Longwood turnovers.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays Florida A&M at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Walton Arena.
Sports, Pages 13 on 11/19/2012