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.
TENNESSEE-MARTIN AT ARKANSAS:
Madden on mark for Hogs
Arkansas guard Rashad Madden (00) passes around Southern Methodist guard Nick Russell during the first half of play Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Ky Madden, whose 57 assists last season were the most among Arkansas’ returning players, said he still considers himself a pass-first guy.
“But if the open shot’s there, I’m taking it,” he said.
Madden, a 6-5 junior from Lepanto, also has been hitting his shots with increasing accuracy.
Over the previous four games, Madden is 20 of 32 from the field (62.5 percent), including 11 of 16 on three-pointers.
In Madden’s first two seasons with the Razorbacks, he shot 22.6 percent from three point range (24 of 106). He was 7 of 35 last season while averaging 4.2 points per game.
“It’s really just confidence and staying with one consistent shot stroke,” Madden said.
Madden said he watched game films of himself in the off season after one of Arkansas’ coaches pointed out he was altering his release.
“It seemed like every shot I took was different,” Madden said. “Now I’m trying to focus on just catch and shoot instead of aiming it or thinking about it.”
Madden said it’s good to know Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson trusts him with the ball.
“It’s cool to know that I can shoot whenever and it’s not a problem,” he said. “I just try to make the right decisions.”
Madden is averaging 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 19.5 minutes going into Arkansas’ game against Tennessee-Martin on Thursday night at Walton Arena.
“I think he plays the game the right way. He plays to win,” Anderson said. “He wants to get other guys going, but there are going to be times he’s open and it’s good to see him be a lot more assertive.
“There are some times - whether it be in the open floor or the half-court setting - where he’s going to have the advantage over whoever’s guarding him. You take what the defense gives you.
“That’s what I like about Ky at this point in time. If they don’t guard him, then he’s stepping up and making shots.”
Madden scored a career-high 21 points and made 8 of 13 shots in Arkansas’ 72-43 victory over Savannah State last week. While the Razorbacks won by 29 points, they led only 27-25 at halftime and might have been trailing if not for Madden’s 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.
“I didn’t force it at all,” Madden said after the game. “I just felt like my teammates found me at the right time in the right spot and I took the shot, but there wasn’t any pressure for me to go score.”
Madden has played in eight games, starting the past three, after missing the Razorbacks’ two exhibition games and regular-season opener against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville while on suspension for breaking an unspecified team rule. It was the third time Anderson suspended Madden, who missed an exhibition game two years ago and missed a game at South Carolina last season.
When Madden was reinstated for games this season, Anderson said he had done everything expected - and more - to play.
“I mean, if you’ve been suspended so many times, you’ll eventually figure it out, I hope,” Anderson said. “It’s like hitting your head on the wall.”
Madden said he believes he’s responded well to the suspension.
“I learned from it,” he said. “I moved forward and I’ve just put it behind me. I’ve been doing the proper things I need to do, so I feel like I’m good.”
Madden had a stomach virus for the first game after his suspension was lifted and Anderson wasn’t sure if he’d play, but Madden played 17 minutes off the bench in a 76-63 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. He made 3 of 4 free throws over the final 1:17 to help the Razorbacks hold on after the game was tied at 60.
“I had been sitting out, so I wanted to play and get that feeling back,” Madden said.
Madden has scored 10 or more points five times in the seven games since his season debut. He scored 10 or more points just twice last season with 11 against Arizona State and Texas A&M. His career high for points before the Savannah State game was 15 against Grambling State when he was a freshman.
“The more confidence he gets in his shot, it’s going to help our team and build confidence in us,” Arkansas senior guard Rickey Scott said. “We want to play the same way he’s playing, bring the same energy.”
Madden said he hasn’t surprised himself with his improved shooting and scoring.
“I felt like I always had it in me,” he said. “It was just up to me to bring it out. I put in the work to do what I do. I worked hard in the off-season to better my game in all aspects.”
Madden had a career-high 51 points and averaged more than 25 points per game in three of his four seasons at East Poinsett County High School.
“I always thought he was capable of scoring,” Anderson said. “He did it in high school. It’s great to see him starting to play at a high level.
“That only makes our team that much more dangerous.”
Ky Madden glance
COLLEGE Arkansas POSITION Guard AGE 21 (born May 23, 1992) HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-5, 180 pounds CLASS Junior HOMETOWN Lepanto HIGH SCHOOL East Poinsett County
NOTEWORTHY Averaging 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 19.5 minutes per game this season. ... In the past four games has made 11 of 16 three-pointers. ... Scored a career-high 21 points in a 72-43 victory over Savannah State last Thursday night, when he made 8 of 11 shots.
SEASON-BY-SEASON STATS AT ARKANSAS
SEASON G-STS MPG FG-FGA 3PT-3PTA FT-FTA RPG APG PPG
2011-2012 32-0 19.7 68-179 17-71 58-77 3.3 1.8 6.6
2012-2013 31-10 16.8 43-92 7-35 37-42 2.4 1.8 4.2
2013-2014 8-3 19.5 25-44 12-20 19-26 2.5 2.0 10.1
Sports, Pages 19 on 12/18/2013