Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
It’s starting to look more like the old days
Marshawn Powell is Arkansas' leading scorer this season.
LITTLE ROCK Saying Arkansas’ basketball game Wednesday night was like the old Hawgball days would be an understatement.
Of Mississippi State’s 29 turnovers, 14 were steals by Arkansas, led by Mardracus Wade’s five.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson used 15 players, and 11 of those played a minimum of 10 minutes. Fourteen of the 15 Razorbacks who played scored.
Only Ky Madden, who made his first start since Dec. 20, played more than 20 minutes.
Fred Gulley had 5 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers.
It was an overwhelming team effort, and that’s what Hawgball is about, as well as playing with the same intensity on both ends of the court.
Only one starter finished in double figures - Marshawn Powell with 17 - but Coty Clarke had 13, B.J. Young 13 (thanks to 5 free throws) and Jacorey Williams had 10 coming off the bench.
That’s not to say Hawgball is all the way back. It isn’t. But it was definitely an improvement, as Anderson is doing a masterful job of getting 94 feet of effort out of a few half court players.
More than 12,000 tickets were sold for the game, but the announced crowd was less than that at 9,072. But not for much longer.
The Razorbacks will have a difficult time making the NCAA Tournament, mainly because there are only four quality opponents left on their schedule - Florida at home Feb. 5, Missouri at home (sold out) Feb. 16, at Florida on Feb. 23 and at Missouri on March 5.
Florida has separated itself from the SEC field with a 5-0 league record and a 15-2 overall record, but who would have guessed that Kentucky, the defending national champs, would be tied for fourth with Missouri and Arkansas at 3-2?
The Gators are deep with an eight-man rotation and four players averaging more than 10 points per game.
Their two losses were to Arizona and Kansas State, by one and six points.
The Gators have the SEC’s No. 1 defense, allowing an average of 51.4 points per game, and the No. 5 offense, averaging 73.2 points per game, to lead the league with a margin difference of 21.8 points.
The surprise SEC team has been Ole Miss, which went into Thursday night’s game 4-0 in SEC play and 15-2 overall. The Rebels don’t have a lot of quality victories. They are winning and doing so with a powerful offense that is averaging 82.4 points per game.
Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy appears poised to make his first NCAA Tournament appearance with the Rebels, if they can continue to play like they have.
Right now, it appears the SEC is in line for four NCAA Tournament invitations, but that could change if a dark horse wins the SEC Tournament, which could take as many as five victories in five days for one of the bottom four seeds, now that the tournament has been expanded to include Missouri and Texas A&M.
It seems the better the SEC becomes in football, the weaker it is in basketball from top to bottom.
It might be that some basketball coaches from other conferences are pointing out the SEC is a football league first and foremost.
Manti Te’o admitted on ABC that he lied to the media about his mysterious, nonexistent girlfriend who died in a well-executed hoax. It was because he had been told she wasn’t dead and he apparently wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
The former Notre Dame linebacker came across as honest and sincere in his interview with Katie Couric but probably naive and gullible enough to have been “catfished,” something that apparently is more common than believed as four Washington Redskins fell for the same Internet scam.
So, Manti Te’o’s NFL stock probably has not been hurt as much by the hoax as it was by his game against Alabama in the BCS National Championship.
Sports, Pages 17 on 01/25/2013