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.
Hogs rout SELA in return from Maui
Arkansas' Michael Qualls (24) drives the ball by Southeastern Louisiana's Jeremy Campbell (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)
FAYETTEVILLE - There was something different about Kikko Haydar’s 67th game playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Haydar, a fifth-year senior from Fayetteville, made his first career start and he made sure the Razorbacks jumped on Southeastern Louisiana early in beating the Lions 111-65 on Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 7,754 at Walton Arena.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said he made the decision to start Haydar shortly before tip off.
“Kind of like a light bulb just went off,” Anderson said. “Let’s try this.”
Haydar had a direct hand in Arkansas’ first 11 points.
RECORDS Arkansas 5-2, Southeastern Louisiana 3-4
STARS Arkansas freshman forward Bobby Portis (16 points, 5 rebounds), sophomore forward Michael Qualls (16 points) and senior guard Kikko Haydar (9 points, 3 assists)
TURNING POINT The Razorbacks started 9 of 13 from the field in jumping out to a 30-9 lead the first 10 minutes.
KEY STAT Arkansas shot 62 percent (38 of 61) from the field.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays Clemson at 1 p.m. Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
“He definitely came out and gave us some energy,” said Arkansas senior guard Fred Gulley, who was Haydar’s teammate at Fayetteville High School. “I remember one time I threw it to him and yelled at him to shoot it while the ball was in the air.”
Haydar made 3 of 3 three-pointers and had a steal and assist on a dunk by freshman forward Bobby Portis as the Razorbacks moved out to an 11-5 lead with 16:36 left in the first half. He also drew a charge by Antonnio Benton, which resulted in a turnover and a possession that ended with freshman forward Moses Kingsley hitting two free throws to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 20-7.
“Kikko’s energy is contagious,” Anderson said. “Not only that, he can shoot the basketball. The guy’s a gym rat. I mean, if you look up, he’s everywhere. He’s like a little gnat out there on the floor.”
Anderson said he came onto the court at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday - 90 minutes before tip off - to do his pregame radio show and Haydar was working on his shot and coming off of screens.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, slow down. We’ve got a game tonight,’ ” Anderson said. “He had no clue he’d be in the starting lineup. So that just tells you want kind of kid he is.
“He’s the ultimate team player.”
Haydar said he found out he was starting about five minutes before the game, when the Razorbacks came back into their locker room after warmups and saw the lineups written on a board.
“My name was on the board and I was a little surprised,” Haydar said. “But Coach always tells me to be ready for the opportunity.”
Anderson talked with Haydar earlier this week about being more aggressive on offense after he failed to take a shot in 18 minutes in the Razorbacks’ 91-81 loss to Gonzaga last Wednesday in the Maui Invitational.
“Coach pulled me into the office the other day and told me that I needed to shoot the ball, especially when people play zones, because against Gonzaga I didn’t take a shot and they zoned us the whole game,” Haydar said. “That’s a mistake I made, and he just told me to be a little more aggressive looking for shots.”
Haydar didn’t hesitate to shoot against Southeastern Louisiana’s zone, scoring all nine of his points on the Razorbacks’ first six possessions and finishing 3 of 6 from the field with 3 assists in 17 minutes. He didn’t have a turnover.
“He’s a terrific three-point shooter,” Lions Coach Jim Yarbrough said. “He’s a guy we knew we couldn’t leave open. We lost him some, and he did a really good of relocating. He got them off to a great start.”
Portis and sophomore forward Michael Qualls lead the Razorbacks (5-2) with 16 points each. Senior forward Coty Clarke had 15 points, junior guard Ky Madden scored 10 and Gulley had 9.
Senior guard Jeffery Ricard led Southeastern Louisiana (3-4) with 14 points.
All 14 eligible Razorbacks scored, and none played more than Qualls’ 18 minutes.
“I thought our guys came out and they really executed the game plan, and that was to kind of rachet up the defense and really create a tempo to our liking,” Anderson said.
The Razorbacks shot 62.8 percent from the field (38 of 61) and hit 9 of 18 three-pointers, including 8 of 13 in the first half. They hit 4 of 21 three-pointers against Gonzaga.
“I saw them play against Gonzaga’s zone and was kind of hopeful that if we came out in it, maybe we would slow them down a little,” Yarbrough said. “But the difference was they weren’t in Hawaii, they were in their building, and they did a great job of making shots tonight. They were just on fire.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 12/04/2013