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.
Aggies rough up Hogs
Mike Anderson-coached teams fell to 0-7 all-time against Texas A&M.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas Texas A&M had changed conferences and coaches since last facing a Mike Anderson-coached team. Anderson had changed jobs, too.
One thing remains the same: The Aggies keep beating Anderson and his teams.
Texas A&M beat Arkansas 69-51 on Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 5,539 at Reed Arena in the Aggies’ first SEC game to improve to 7-0 against Anderson-coached teams. His Missouri teams went 0-6 against the Aggies in Big 12 Conference play.
It’s the most times Anderson has faced a team in 11 seasons as a head coach without winning. The most among any other opponent is Louisville’s 4-0 mark.
The Razorbacks (9-5, 0-1) scored a season-low for points against Texas A&M.
Their previous low came in an 80-67 loss at No. 2 Michigan.
Texas A&M outrebounded Arkansas 51-27
The Razorbacks made 4 of 15 free throws and 3 of 15 3-pointers
Arkansas led 24-19 before a 17-0 Aggies run
The Razorbacks had won five consecutive games, all at home, since losing to the Wolverines on Dec. 8, and Texas A&M (11-3, 1-0) seemed vulnerable coming into the game despite its 8-1 record at Reed Arena.
The Aggies had lost to Southern University 53-51 and struggled to beat Army 61-55 and Houston Baptist 67-53 in the previous three games.
“I think tonight was about the name of the team we were playing,” said junior guard Fabyon Harris, who led the Aggies with 17 points.
“We had been playing down to our competition, but we actually played up the competition tonight.”
Way above Arkansas, in fact.
“I thought A&M probably wanted it more than we did,” Anderson said. “It was their first SEC game, and it was reflected in the hustle plays.”
Texas A&M shot 36.2 percent from the field (21 of 58) but won because it outrebounded Arkansas 51-27 and outscored the Razorbacks 21-8 on second-chance points. The Razorbacks also hurt themselves by hitting just 4 of 15 free throws. They also were 3 of 15 on three-point attempts.
Anderson said he was “mystified” by the Razorbacks’ shooting and rebounding problems given the emphasis on those areas in practice.
“It was a terrible game on our part,” said sophomore guard BJ Young, who led the Razorbacks with 13 points. “It was not one of our best efforts. We didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well, we didn’t score. As soon as something started going wrong, panic set in. It just all went downhill from there.”
The Aggies outscored the Razorbacks 19-6 to open the second half and take a 49-31 lead with 11:06 left. Their run included a pair of three-point baskets by senior guard Elston Turner (15 points) and three baskets by senior forward Ray Turner (9 points, 8 rebounds).
Arkansas went 5:02 without scoring before Young cut into the lane for a layup to pull the Razorbacks within 49-33 with 10:26 left.
The Aggies pushed their lead to 56-33 at the 8:19 mark on two free throws by Harris, who said after the game he expressed surprise about the 23-point margin to sophomore forward Courtney Roberson, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“I looked at Courtney and said, ‘Bro, we’re about to blow them out,’ ” Harris said. “He started laughing and said, ‘Just keep playing.’ I thought, ‘We’re going to win by 30 points if we keep playing like this.’ ”Arkansas redshirt junior forward Marshawn Powell, who came into the game averaging 15.2 points, was held scoreless for only the second time in his 76-game career. He played 12 minutes because of foul problems - two in each half - and finished 0 of 2 from the field with 5 turnovers.
The only other time Powell didn’t score was when he didn’t attempt a shot or free throw while paying just one minute against Texas Southern when he was a sophomore during the 2010-2011 season.
His previous scoring low this season was two points against Arizona State.
“Powell got frustrated, and I think Coach Anderson must have obviously been frustrated with him,” Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy said. “I’m glad he only played 12 minutes, because he’s really a good player.” Anderson said he tried to let Powell play through his foul problems.
“He’s one of the more experienced guys we’ve got, so not to have him be as effective as he’s been all year long was a big problem,” Anderson said.
“He just didn’t have one of his better performances.”The Aggies had been doing extra running in practice in recent days for all of their missed block-outs on rebound attempts in games, Kennedy said. Roberson, who is 6-9 and 238 pounds, didn’t have a rebound in 26 minutes against Houston Baptist but set a career high against the Razorbacks, surpassing by one the 12 rebounds he had against Washington State earlier this season.
“I told everybody I was going to get double-digit rebounds this game,” Roberson said.
“We weren’t just satisfied to put a body on somebody,” Kennedy said. “Tonight we also chased some long rebounds down and made some effort plays we hadn’t consistently made this year.
“Being a conference game, our guys raised their level of play. We’d like to have that level of playing every night, and hopefully we can build on that from here.” It was the 146th conference game between the Razorbacks and Aggies, but the first in the SEC after the others had been in the Southwest Conference.
“I’m really proud of our guys for competing and getting better,” Kennedy said. “Getting 19 offensive rebounds was a big key to the game, and we took care of the ball.”
The Aggies had 10 turnovers while the Razorbacks had 12, and Texas A&M controlled tempo for the most part. Anderson said it was tough for Arkansas to get into its pressure defense because of so many missed free throws.
“If you had told me, ‘Hey, Coach, you’re going to hold A&M to 36 percent shooting from the field, I’d think we’ve got a great chance to win the ballgame,” Anderson said. “But the other parts, the shooting and their offensive boards, really hurt us. It’s conference play, and A&M did what they’re supposed to do.
“Remember, there’s a lot of basketball left. This was one game, and one game does not define your season.”
Sports, Pages 15 on 01/10/2013