Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
In the lane:
Freshman plays like a big shot
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson shouts out to his team against Georgia in the second half Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 62-60.
FAYETTEVILLE Freshman Anthlon Bell had played 32 minutes in Arkansas’ past 10 games, had scored in only one game in that span and had not seen action in two of the past three games.
But when Georgia opened in a zone defense Thursday that challenged Arkansas to shoot long jumpers, the 6-3 guard got the early call off the bench.
Bell burned the Bulldogs with 3 three-pointers in the first half and finished 5 of 8 from behind the three point line as he led the Razorbacks with a career high 17 points in Arkansas’ 62-60 victory.
Coach Mike Anderson said going with Bell early was a “gut” decision.
“I’ve been feeling him lately,” Anderson said of Bell’s recent practice effort.
“It’s just feeling him from the standpoint of it’s time to put him out there and just make or miss.”
“He made some big shots, and really that was the difference,” Georgia Coach Mark Fox said.
“His shooting was critical, especially there in the first half.”
Bell nearly doubled his scoring in SEC games. His previous scoring came in nine-point efforts against Texas A&M and Mississippi State, all on three-pointers.
“I know I’ve done it in the past and I know I’m capable of it,” said Bell, who made three-pointers at the 15:06, 12:26 and 11:39 marks of the first half, the last giving Arkansas an 18-6 lead. “When I hit the first one, I felt pretty confident.
I just let it come to me.” Defensive pressure
Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went 0 for 4 in the first half and didn’t score in his 14-minute stint before finishing with 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
The Razorbacks mixed up their personnel on the prolific scorer, whose average of 17.7 points per game ranked second in the SEC behind Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson.
Junior Mardracus Wade opened the game on Caldwell-Pope, who was also guarded by BJ Young, Fred Gulley, Rickey Scott, Kikko Haydar and Michael Qualls.
“Just try to keep him in front, get a hand up, contest his shots,” Young said of the defensive plan.
“We were in his face wherever he was,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “We were trying to make him put it on the floor. We were real alert.”
Walk, no talk
Georgia Coach Mark Fox gave the traveling signal after late baskets in the lane by Arkansas’ Marshawn Powell and BJ Young.
Asked what he thought of those calls during his post game interview, Fox glanced quickly to Georgia sports information assistant Tim Hix, then said, “No comment.” Foul flap
Arkansas fans were in an uproar when the fouls were 5-1 against the Hogs early in the second half after a first half in which Arkansas was called for nine fouls to Georgia’s five. The officials were given a Bronx cheer when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was called for a hold at the 14:47 mark of the second half for Georgia’s second team foul
The Bulldogs made 20 of 27 free throws compared to Arkansas’ 8-of-12 showing at the line. The Razorbacks were called for 23 fouls, compared to 16 for Georgia.
Arkansas made just 9 of 28 shots (32.1 percent) in the first half, but the Hogs’ shooting was almost stellar compared to Georgia’s 4-of-22 (18.2 percent) effort.
Donte Williams and Sherrard Brantley combined to make 4 of 7 shots for the Bulldogs, while the rest of the team was 0 of 15.
Arkansas blocked eight Georgia shots, its highest total since the Hogs had 11 blocks in a 96-70 victory over Mississippi State on Jan. 23.
Hunter Mickelson had three blocks to lead the way, while Marshawn Powell and Michael Qualls had two blocks each.
The Razorbacks had averaged just 3.1 blocked shots per game in the seven games since facing Mississippi State.
Georgia Coach Mark Fox came to the interview room within a few minutes of the game’s end, much earlier than most opposing coaches, and before members of the media had fully assembled. After standing behind the podium for a few seconds, Fox appeared ready to leave when reporters finally took notice of him in the room.
Fox gave snipped answers to several questions and responded, “That’s between me and my team” when asked what he said to the players after the game.
Fox did not allow reporters to talk to his players after the game.
South Carolina 63, Mississippi 62 Alabama 64, Mississippi State 56 Texas A&M 65, Auburn 56 Kentucky 74, Vanderbilt 70
Arkansas 62, Georgia 60
SATURDAY’S GAMES All times Central
Alabama at LSU, 12:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi St., 12:30 p.m.
South Carolina at Georgia, 1 p.m.
Tennessee at Texas A&M, 3 p.m.
Auburn at Mississippi, 4 p.m.
Arkansas at Florida, 6 p.m.
Missouri at Kentucky, 8 p.m.
Auburn at Alabama, 6 p.m.
Florida at Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Sports, Pages 20 on 02/22/2013