Game vs. Hornets has Hogs buzzing

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, January 5, 2013
Mike Anderson's team has played only four times since a Dec. 8 loss at No. 2 Michigan.
Photo by Michael Woods
Mike Anderson's team has played only four times since a Dec. 8 loss at No. 2 Michigan.

— Arkansas’ men’s basketball team has been playing a football schedule in recent weeks: Games every Saturday with practices in between.

The Razorbacks’ game against Delaware State at 7 tonight in Walton Arena will mark their third consecutive Saturday-only game.

“It gets monotonous,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.

With so much time between games, the Razorbacks have held several two-a-day practices, including some this week.

“You’ve kind of got to sludge through it,” sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson said. “We’ve been practicing for so long. It definitely is going to be awesome to get back in a game.”

To try and break up the practice monotony, Anderson had the Razorbacks scrimmage Wednesday while team managers served as officials.

“I thought it was very, very competitive,” Anderson said. “Now it’s time to play somebody other than ourselves.”

The Razorbacks (8-4) would have preferred to play more games in recent weeks, but they have worked to make the most of their lengthy practice time.

“The way we’ve been practicing, it’s been tough, but I think it’s going to pay off throughout the rest of the season,” sophomore guard BJ Young said. “We’ve gotten better.”

The schedule has allowed for plenty of teaching moments in practice, learning from film study and working on fundamentals.

“Guys are getting more repetitions, getting up more shots, watching more film, getting better,” junior guard Mardracus Wade said. “I’m excited about that.”

Wade said the heavy practice schedule has allowed the Razorbacks to fine-tune their game before starting SEC play at Texas A&M on Wednesday night. The SEC is playing an 18-game schedule for the first time - up from 16 - and Arkansas won’t go more than four days without a game the rest of the regular season.

“Guys are starting to value this time,” Wade said. “Once we get into the SEC, things will get rolling so we won’t have too much time to try and learn new things.”

Delaware State (6-9) comes into tonight’s game after winning 53-51 Wednesday night at Marshall, despite missing four players who have started games this season.

“Delaware State coming inhere, you can’t pay attention to the name,” Anderson said. “They just went into Marshall and beat Marshall and didn’t have all their players, so that tells you they’re capable of beating anybody.”

Delaware State sophomore guard Tahj Tate, who is averaging a team-high 15.7 points and sat out at Marshall while serving a one-game suspension imposed by Coach Greg Jackson, will play tonight.

Two other players who have been starting, 6-10 sophomore center Kendall Gray and sophomore guard Amere May, missed the Marshall game for school-related reasons, according to a Delaware State spokesman, and didn’t make the trip to Arkansas.

Junior guard A.J. Thompson, who has started at times this season but missed the Marshall game because of a wrist injury, is out tonight, Jackson said.

Casey Walker, a 6-5 junior forward, led Delaware State with 13 points against Marshall. Senior forward Marques Oliver added 12 points and sophomore forward Tyshawn Bell had 11.

“I’m so proud of the way our guys fought the entire game against a quality opponent on the road,” Jackson told reporters after the Marshall game. “Our patience and defense were keys to the win. We were successful most of the game in controlling the tempo and showing different looks on defense.”

Anderson said the Hornets will try and slow the Razorbacks.

“It’s going to be possession by possession with them,” Anderson said. “It’s going to test our patience on defense as well at times. We’re going to need to have a little patience offensively, but we want to create tempo.”

Tonight’s game Arkansas men vs. Delaware State WHEN 7 p.m.

WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 8-4; Delaware State 6-8 TELEVISION RSN telecast, which includes KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock;

KFTA-TV, Channel 24, in Fayetteville and KAIT-TV, Channel 8, in Jonesboro

Sports, Pages 19 on 01/05/2013