Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Other Hogs assisting Madden for a change
Arkansas guard Rashad Madden dunks against Savannah State Thursday Dec. 12, 2013, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Anybody who didn’t witness the games probably wouldn’t believe it, but the Razorbacks almost needed Ky Madden’s 13 first-half points in a 72-43 victory over Savannah State on Thursday night as much as they did his team-high 14 points last Saturday afternoon in a 74-68 victory over ACC member Clemson.
Arkansas would have trailed cupcake Savannah State 25-14 during a perhaps panicky intermission had it not been for Madden connecting on 6 of 7 shots from the field in his first half while his teammates collectively made only 4 of 21.
The lean, lanky 6-5 junior guard from Lepanto took the lead role that was apparently forced upon him in his typically understated stride.
“I didn’t force it at all,” Madden said after finishing with a career-high 21 points in Thursday’s game. “I happened to be open, and my teammates found me at the right time in the right spot.”
Usually it has been Madden finding teammates directly for the assist or assisting others with the pass leading to their assist. That didn’t change, either, given Madden’s plus-2 assists/turnover ratio against Savannah State while handling the ball on the point, at off guard and at small forward.
“He played 29 minutes with no turnovers,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “You can see he’s one of these guys commanding guys to play in the right position. He’s playing instinctively.”
Madden’s basketball instincts are instinctively good, Anderson has said since inheriting the former East Poinsett County High standout in the spring of 2011 who was signed the previous November by former coach John Pelphrey.
“He has a good basketball IQ ,” Anderson has said often, most recently after the Clemson game. “He can make other guys better, and he’ll stick his little neck in there and rebound and disrupt some things on defense. He has got a little grittiness about him. He is playing good basketball.”
And he’s scoring, too. He did that at East Poinsett County, where he averaged 25 points a game, but not so much the past two seasons as a perimeter player on a Razorbacks team whose offense was dominated by guard BJ Young.
Junior transfer forward Alandise Harris and freshman centers Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley give Arkansas inside weapons they didn’t have last season, and second-year players Michael Qualls and Coty Clarke improved the team’s inside-out presence and enhanced Madden’s versatility in the process.
“I always thought he was capable of scoring,” Anderson said. “He did it in high school. Now that we have guys who can score inside and [opponents] have to pay attention to that, you have to knock some shots down. I think he’s fantastic in the open court as far making good decisions.”
Madden was asked if his recent offense, which includes making eight of his past nine three-pointers taken in the Clemson and Savannah State games, surprised him.
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I thought I had it in me. It was just up to me to bring it out.
“It’s cool, but the most important thing is we won.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 12/14/2013