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.
UA goal: Cut out silly fouls
Mike Anderson's style of play led to the Razorbacks committing 26 fouls against Northwestern State on Saturday.
FAYETTEVILLE Arizona State and Wisconsin shot a combined 60.8 percent from the free-throw line against Arkansas last weekend in Las Vegas.
That accuracy rate for the season would tie the Sun Devils and Badgers for 314th nationally with Delaware State and Wright State among the 347 NCAA Division I teams.
The problem for Arkansas in losing to Arizona State 83-68 and Wisconsin 77-70 wasn’t so much the quality of the opponents’ free-throw shooting, but the quantity. The Sun Devils made 20 of 36 free throws compared to 14 of 21 by the Razorbacks, and the Badgers made 25 of 38 compared to 17 of 25 by the Hogs.
Arizona State and Wisconsin outshot Arkansas 74-46 on free-throw attempts and outscored the Razorbacks 45-31 at the line. Both teams were able to use the frequent free throws to slow the game’s pace. In the Badgers’ case, they won by seven points after making eight more free throws than Arkansas.
“Our guys have got to learn to play defense without fouling,” Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. “Defensively, I thought we did some good things, but we have got to curtail the fouling from being overly aggressive. We got some unnecessary fouls that were 94 feet away from the basket.”
Arkansas (3-2) will look to solve its foul problems against No. 6 Syracuse, which visits Walton Arena for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. The Razorbacks are getting a home game because they played at Connecticut in last season’s SEC/Big East Challenge matchup, which the Huskies won 75-62.
“Syracuse has attacking guards, so we have got to clean it up,” Anderson said. “That’s the process with a young basketball team. You want them to be aggressive, but you want them to be smart as well.”
Redshirt junior forward Marshawn Powell is Arkansas’ most experienced player, but he struggled with foul trouble against Arizona State and Wisconsin. He had four fouls in 18 minutes against Arizona State, never got in a groove and shot 1 of 6 from the field. He fouled out in 19 minutes against Wisconsin and finished with eight points and three rebounds.
“I took myself out of those games and made it hard on myself and the team,” Powell said.
Anderson said the Razorbacks need Powell, who is averaging 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, to be an inside presence, especially against a physical team like Syracuse.
“Marshawn is a guy we’ve got to have on the floor,” Anderson said. “He has got to be a little smarter in terms of not getting silly fouls. But not only Marshawn, our whole team.”
Junior forward Coty Clarke, averaging a team-high 6.8 rebounds, fouled out in 12 minutes against Arizona State. Sophomore guard Ky Madden fouled out in 19 minutes against Wisconsin, and sophomore guard BJ Young had four fouls in 28 minutes.
Powell, who missed all but the first two games last season after tearing ligaments in his right knee, is still getting used to playing. Arizona State and Wisconsin represented the highest level of competition he had gone against since SEC play during the 2010-2011 season, when he was a sophomore.
“Our practices are totally different than the games,” Powell said of how fouls are called. “We practice so hard, and Coach allows a lot of things I do in practice that get called in games. ... I’m just trying to get that cleaned up.”
Powell said he believes he can stay out of foul trouble against Syracuse.
“I’ve been working on that in practice, trying not to foul so much,” he said. “I’m working to not reach and staying in front of guys, which I can do.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 11/29/2012