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.
Mickelson pressed to rebound quickly
Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson (21) attempts to rebound against Auburn's Rob Chubb (41) during the second half an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. Arkansas defeated Auburn 88-80. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE Hunter Mickelson watched the final 28:50 of the Arkansas’ 88-80 double overtime victory against Auburn on Wednesday night from the Razorbacks’ bench.
The 6-10 sophomore, who has started every game this season, wasn’t injured or in danger of fouling out.
Mickelson simply was struggling to play effectively.
After Mickelson went 1 of 5 from the field in the first half — including a missed reverse layup attempt when it appeared he could have dunked the ball — and then drew two fouls in the second half — the second while being dunked over by Rob Chubb — Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson took him out for good.
Mickelson finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 fouls in 12 minutes.
Hunter Mickelson was benched with 18:50 remaining in the second half against Auburn
The sophomore finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds and 2 fouls in 12 minutes
Arkansas plays at Ole Miss (14-2, 3-0) on Saturday
Before Thursday’s practice, Anderson had Mickelson come to his office to talk about the Auburn game.
“That was just one of those bad nights,” Anderson said. “That was one of those nights where anything you tried to do, it just didn’t happen. So he’s got to have short-term memory and get back in practice and come with it, because he’s a guy with size that we do have, and when Hunter’s right, he’s a tough matchup.
“He’s got to play with that aggressiveness, and he’s got to play with the physicality that’s taking place in games. Guys are going to come at him and he’s got to be able to counter that ... banging back with them.”
The Razorbacks (11-5, 2-1 SEC) are desperate for a strong game from Mickelson on Saturday when they play at Ole Miss (14-2, 3-0), which has two of the SEC’s top big men in seniors Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner.
“We’re going to need him to play,” Anderson said. “He’s got to play.”
Holloway, 6-7, is averaging 15.9 points and an SEC-leading 10 rebounds. Buckner, who has an Ole Miss career record 273 blocked shots, is averaging 10.4 points and 8.0 rebounds.
“We knew coming into the year that Murph and Reg being seniors were going to bring the experience that we needed,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. “We just needed consistency, and both of those guys are doing their part early.”
Arkansas junior forward Marshawn Powell did his part against Auburn, finishing with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m tired, man,” Powell said after the game. “I’m real tired.”
Powell missed all but the first two games last season because of a knee injury and redshirted, but he averaged 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in four games against Ole Miss as a freshman and sophomore. This season, Powell is averaging 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds.
“I certainly know about Marshawn Powell,” said Kennedy, who is in his seventh season at Ole Miss. “I think he’s a tremendous player. I’m happy to see that he’s back and looks fully recovered from the injury.
“He’s always had an ability to score. He’s rebounding at a very efficient level. He obviously is a multidimensional forward who you’ve got to game-plan around.”
Anderson said that with opposing teams focusing their defense on stopping Powell, it should allow Mickelson the opportunity to make plays — if he’ll be more aggressive than he was against Auburn.
“There were a lot of times they doubled on [Powell] and we wanted Hunter to just dive to the basket, and he was kind of slow in his rotating, and so they were able to trap Marshawn,” Anderson said. “So Hunter’s just got to find those different spots on the floor and feel comfortable with it.”
Anderson said other Razorbacks who played sparingly against Auburn or not at all also will need to be counted on at Ole Miss considering Arkansas had five players go more than 30 minutes on Wednesday night, including 47 by sophomore guard BJ Young and 44 by Powell. Junior forward Coty Clarke (9 points, 8 rebounds) played 38 minutes, junior guard Mardracus Wade (12 points, 3 steals) played 35 and junior guard Fred Gulley (4 points, 3 rebounds, 0 turnovers) played 31.
Junior guard Kikko Haydar (8 points, 2 assists) played 17 minutes, junior guard Rickey Scott and sophomore guard Ky Madden played 10 minutes each, freshman forward Michael Qualls played 6, and freshman forward Jacorey Williams and freshman guards Anthlon Bell and Dee Wagner didn’t play at all.
“We may see those guys for some periods of time in the game,” Anderson said. “It’s important that not only Hunter, but all our guys, be ready to go into a place where they’re going to be riled up and they’ll be ready for us.”
Kennedy said Ole Miss is expecting a sellout crowd at Tad Smith Coliseum, which has a listed capacity of 9,061. The Rebels had an announced crowd of 9,173 for their 64-49 victory over then-No. 10 Missouri last Saturday, which improved Ole Miss’ home record to 9-0.
“It should be a fun atmosphere,” Anderson said. “I always tell guys, ‘If no fans were there, I’d be disappointed.’ ”
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/18/2013