It’s always defense first for Razorbacks

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Mike Anderson is only 1-12 in road games at Arkansas and 2-16 in games away from Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Michael Woods
Mike Anderson is only 1-12 in road games at Arkansas and 2-16 in games away from Bud Walton Arena.

— Arkansas takes on South Carolina today in Columbia, S.C., and the only forgettable aspect of the Razorbacks’ last basketball game may need to be what they remember most.

Arkansas annihilated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 96-70 in Wednesday night’s game at Walton Arena.

Except for one stretch of the first half, it was an all-around rout.

Arkansas’ starting five of guards Fred Gulley, Ky Madden and Rickey Scott and forwards Marshawn Powell and Hunter Mickelson harassed Mississippi State defensively. They created turnovers leading to easy baskets while forcing the Bulldogs into early foul trouble as Arkansas jumped out to a 14-3 lead.

Knowing the injury-wracked Bulldogs had only eight players available, Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson wholesale subbed guards BJ Young, Mardracus Wade and Kikko Haydar and forwards Coty Clarke and Jacorey Williams to wear down Mississippi State.

Instead, Mississippi State briefly wore Arkansas out. The Bulldogs scored the next eight points. MSU trailed only 16-13 before Anderson wholesale subbed the starters for the subs.

Arkansas’ starters regained control. Then the same five subs who flunked their first course more than atoned in all phases.

Most notable were the performances of Young, a customary starter who scored 13 points in 17 minutes, and Clarke, who was 5 for 5 from the field and finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 19 minutes.

But these Hogs (12-6, 3-2 SEC) know that what went amiss Wednesday must constantly be addressed today against South Carolina (11-7, 1-4) if they are to win for the first time outside of Arkansas.

“I think we brought in an offensive mind-set and didn’t bring it on defense, because they got quick layups after we turned the ball over,” Clarke said. “In the second half, we just had to regroup and we came with that defensive mind-set that led to those offensive plays. We just had to change the mind-set to defense first.”

That mind-set, Anderson says, must be first, last and always.

That mind-set was never there in Arkansas’ dreadful 69-51 loss at Texas A&M, and it strayed at a critical juncture even as the Razorbacks made considerable strides last Saturday at Ole Miss.

Arkansas rallied from 13 points down to tie Ole Miss, 50-50, before losing 76-64, falling further behind as the Rebels responded with a run.

“I thought we panicked a little bit,” Anderson said. “I thought we panicked from the standpoint that we tried to deal with that offensively as opposed to ‘Let’s get some stops.’ Even being down seven with seven minutes to go, I mean that’s a lifetime in a game.”

That’s the time, Anderson said, to speed up your defense and often slow down your offense.

“To me, that’s the time you’ve really got to have patience,” Anderson said. “Now you’ve got to really come down and execute and get what you want offensively, but defensively you’ve got to have stops. That’s got to be the mind-set for our guys, that we’ve got to get stops.”

Sports, Pages 24 on 01/26/2013