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.
Razorbacks can’t get too comfortable
Arkansas junior guard Kikko Haydar celebrates with members of the student section Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, after beating Missouri at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE The last time the Arkansas Razorbacks received this many pats on the back, Vanderbilt kicked them in the backside.
Arkansas’ men’s basketball team will face Georgia on Thursday night, fresh off an emotionally huge 73-71 victory over Missouri on Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
So Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson will re-emphasize to his team how it didn’t sit well when the Commodores kicked them, 67-49, in Nashville, Tenn.
Vanderbilt defeated Arkansas one game after the Razorbacks knocked off No. 2 Florida, when Arkansas led by as much as 27 points before completing the stunning 80-69 upset at Walton Arena.
“Let’s hope that we learned something from that episode, because we went on the road and, sure enough, I thought that had an effect on that game,” Anderson said Monday. “I thought we kind of overlooked and didn’t go with the same mind-set you have got to have.”
Obviously with their 1-8 road record, these Hogs have no cause to overlook anybody once they cross the Arkansas line.
However, the Hogs are 15-1 inside Arkansas and 14-1 at Walton Arena, including 6-0 in the SEC.
That appears to be a nice comfort zone, but Anderson doesn’t want them to be too comfortable Thursday night.
Some Arkansas fans already might mark Thursday down as another home victory and look ahead to Saturday night’s rematch against Florida in Gainesville, Fla., but Anderson has had Georgia on his mind ever since Coach Mark Fox’s Bulldogs blasted Arkansas, 81-59 last season in Athens, Ga.
“They have already got my attention from what they did last year, and they have got most of those players back,” Anderson said “That’s a team that is playing well. I think Mark has them playing the way he wants them defensively. They are really getting after it and playing really physical and rebounding the basketball.
“We will be tested. They have won three games on the road and they took Ole Miss to overtime last weekend [in Oxford, Miss].”
Junior forward Marshawn Powell, the SEC’s player of the week after recording 20 points and nine rebounds at Auburn and 24 points against Missouri, candidly contrasted his first two seasons under former coach John Pelphrey with last season (even though it was cut short by a major knee injury) and this season under Anderson.
“Coach A getting hired here as head coach changed my whole life,” Powell said. “Not just basketball, but preparing me for later on in life. I feel a little older and a little more wiser now than I was when Pelphrey was here. A lot of things I used to get in trouble for or get punished for aren’t happening anymore.”
Powell and junior guard Kikko Haydar, a fellow remnant of the Pelphrey era, are co-captains. It’s a post Powell takes seriously.
“I had to learn some things about myself in order to lead other people first,” Powell said.
Sports, Pages 15 on 02/20/2013