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.
Bell sounds off for Razorbacks
Arkansas guard Anthlon Bell (5) shoots for the basket as Florida's Casey Prather (24) watches during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Florida won 71-54. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
BATON ROUGE, La. Anthlon Bell isn’t wasting any time when he comes off the bench for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“The team has given me a nickname: ‘Shoot Soon,’ ” said Bell, a 6-3 freshman guard from Bartlett, Tenn. “They tell me as soon as I get in I should just go ahead and let it pop.”
The way Bell has shot the past two games - hitting 9 of 18 three-pointers and scoring 31 points - no one is complaining about his quick release.
Arkansas (17-10, 8-6 SEC) vs. LSU (16-9, 7-7)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.
TV: SEC Network
Bell entered the Georgia game last Thursday with 15:08 left in the first half and hit a three-pointer two seconds later. He finished with a career-high 17 points in 15 minutes, hitting 7 of 10 shots, including 6 of 10 three-pointers, in the Razorbacks’ 62-60 victory.
The Florida Gators were well aware of Bell when they beat Arkansas 71-54 on Saturday.
“At first when I came in against Florida they yelled out, ‘That’s the shooter right there!’ ” Bell said.
The Gators’ attention didn’t stop Bell. He hit a three-pointer 1 minute and 5 seconds after entering in the first half and scored 14 points in 21 minutes, hitting 5 of 13 shots, including 4 of 10 three-pointers.
“We need somebody to come off the bench and score, and he’s been giving us that,” Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade said of Bell. “Hopefully, he can see more minutes.”
Bell will look to continue his hot shooting when the Razorbacks (17-10, 8-6 SEC) play LSU (16-9, 7-7) at 7 tonight at Maravich Assembly Center.
“My confidence is probably out the roof right now,” Bell said. “I’m thinking I can knock down a shot anywhere inside half court.”
“I think you’ll see him on the floor quite a bit,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.
Bell played a combined 53 minutes and scored 18 points in Arkansas’ first 12 SEC games. He didn’t play in three games, including the Razorbacks’ 73-71 victory over Missouri, five days before they faced Georgia.
“It was real hard sitting and watching, knowing that you want to be out there helping the team win,” said Bell, who is averaging 4.4 points and 8.9 minutes in 24 games. “Sometimes your confidence gets low, but you always stay up, just never knowing when you’re going to be out there.”
Anderson said Bell had good practices leading up to the Georgia game.
“He’s ready to play now,” Anderson said. “He has had to learn some things throughout the course of the year, but I think he’s good enough defensively and he has the basketball intelligence and good instincts.
“More importantly, he can put the ball in the hole. He can shoot the basketball, and he knows how to get the shot.That’s going to be critical for us because he’s a guy that can extend the floor.”
Georgia Coach Mark Fox said Bell’s shooting was the difference in the Razorbacks beating the Bulldogs. He also can be a difference-maker if the Razorbacks are to make a run to the postseason.
“I think we all would love to have a boost like that, have a guy that starts to come into his own,” Fox said. “You add a weapon to your team late in the year, it’s kind of like the pros when they make a trade for the playoff push. You add a guy to your team, in essence, because you’re adding more production from that player who was already there. I think it’s going to help their squad down the stretch.”
Anderson said seeing Bell score well in back-to-back SEC games is a sign of his growth as a player.
“That tells me that consistency is starting to take place,” Anderson said. “I think our guys do a really good job of getting him the ball in the right spot, and he knows what he’s capable of doing. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 02/27/2013