Anderson salutes crowd at Verizon

Published: Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The crowd at Verizon Arena watches the Razorbacks play against South Alabama on Saturday, December 21, 2013.
Photo by Melissa Gerrits
The crowd at Verizon Arena watches the Razorbacks play against South Alabama on Saturday, December 21, 2013.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas, which has won 21 consecutive games at Walton Arena since losing to Syracuse last season, finally has a winning streak at Verizon Arena, too.

The Razorbacks’ 72-60 victory over South Alabama last Saturday night in North Little Rock marked the first time they had won back-to-back games at Verizon Arena in 14 years.

Arkansas won its first two games at Verizon Arena - over Texas-Pan American and Centenary during the 1999-2000 season - but in the Razorbacks’ next 11 appearances, they couldn’t win two in a row.

Then the Razorbacks beat Alabama A&M 95-68 at Verizon Arena last season and made it back-to-back victories against South Alabama to improve to 7-8 in the building.

“We had a great, great, great crowd here,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said after the South Alabama game. “Great enthusiasm. Great passion. They love the Hogs.

“I want to say Merry Christmas to them … and thank them for coming out and creating a great atmosphere.”

Anderson praised the fans for helping the Razorbacks pull away in the final minutes after South Alabama had cut Arkansas’ lead to 46-43.

“That could be the difference in a game,” Anderson said. “When we needed it, they were there.”

The announced crowd of 10,113 at Verizon Arena was the largest attendance for a Razorbacks home game this season.

Arkansas’ largest announced attendance at Walton Arena has been 9,042 against Louisiana-Lafayette, though the Clemson game’s crowd of 7,432 was impacted by a winter storm.

The Razorbacks’ average attendance for seven games at Walton Arena is 7,381.

Arkansas forward Alandise Harris, a junior from Little Rock Central, said it was good to see fans turn out at Verizon Arena “instead of just watching on TV.”

Harris said he expected a good crowd for the South Alabama game.

“Little Rock always brings a pretty good crowd as long as I’ve been playing,” Harris said.

Harris, who transferred from Houston to Arkansas last year and redshirted, has played in two college games at Verizon Arena -against and for the Razorbacks.

Two years ago Harris had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots to help Houston beat Arkansas 87-78 in front of an announced crowd of 11,668 and extend the Razorbacks’ losing streak at Verizon Arena to three games. He had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots against South Alabama.

“I think it was a good for us to just come back and get a win in front of the Little Rock fans,” said Arkansas guard Ky Madden, a junior from Lepanto. “They don’t really get a chance to see us often.”

First-year South Alabama Coach Matthew Graves, a former Butler assistant, said hewas impressed by the fans at Verizon Arena.

“I loved it,” Graves said. “I thought the crowd had good energy. They were loud and they were into it.

“If I had my preference, I’d certainly rather play here than up in Fayetteville from what I understand. But it was a good atmosphere.

“It was good for us. We don’t get that many opportunities to play in front of a large crowd like this.”Razorbacks at Verizon

Arkansas has a 7-8 record at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock since first playing there during the 1999-2000 season. Here’s a rundown of the results and attendance for the Razorbacks’ Verizon Arena appearances, broken down by the 10 largest crowds and the five smallest crowds. The games against Texas-Pan American and Centenary were the second halves of doubleheaders with UALR playing in the openers. The game against Illinois during the 2002-2003 season was played at the same time the Arkansas football team played Georgia in the SEC Championship game:TOP 10 CROWDSATT. DATE RESULT17,021 Dec. 22, 2001 Lost to No. 6 Oklahoma State 85-7616,144 Dec. 30, 1999 Beat Centenary 73-55$15,687 Jan. 3, 2009 Beat North Texas 86-7513,667 Dec. 15, 1999 Beat Texas-Pan American 70-56$13,283 Dec. 16, 2006 Lost to Texas Tech 71-5613,140 Dec. 4, 2004 Lost to No. 3 Illinois 72-6011,958 Dec. 30, 2009 Lost to Baylor 70-4711,668 Nov. 18, 2011 Lost to Houston 87-7810,961 Dec. 17, 2005 Beat Rice 80-6110,835 Dec. 22, 2007 Lost to Appalachian State 74-67THE BOTTOM 5ATT. DATE RESULT6,615 Nov. 29, 2003 beat Jacksonville (Fla.) 85-659,396 Nov. 26, 2010 Lost to Ala.-Birmingham 70-65 OT9,756 Dec. 7, 2002 Lost to No. 25 Illinois 62-58#9,760 Dec. 22, 2012 beat Alabama A&M 95-6810,113 Dec. 21, 2013 beat South Alabama 72-60$ Part of a doubleheader with UALR # Played at the same time the Arkansas football team played Georgia in the SEC Championship Game

Sports, Pages 17 on 12/24/2013