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.
In the lane:
Arkansas players: Gray OK
Vanderbilt forward Damian Jones (30) pulls down a rebound between Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade (1) and forward Coty Clarke (4) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Don’t be surprised to see Arkansas wearing anthracite Thursday at Missouri.
The Razorbacks broke out the dark gray uniforms for a basketball game for the first time Saturday, and Arkansas broke through for its first road victory of the season, beating Vanderbilt 77-75.
Junior guard Ky Madden said the team found out about the new uniforms Friday.
“The first thing I thought was I need some new shoes,” Madden said. “I just wanted a new pair just to go with the jersey.”
The Razorbacks modeled the anthracite uniforms in a preseason video highlighting the apparel but had worn their red jerseys in seven games outside the state this season, including four road games and three games at the Maui Invitational.
“We’ve been harping about wearing them the whole year, and we finally got to and it was a perfect time,” Madden said. “A new season, new everything. Just a good time to bring them out. It gave us energy. It was cool.”
“It was a new look, just anew look,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “I like them.”
Apparently the new uniforms didn’t make much of an impression on Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings.
“Did they wear gray?
Did we wear white?” Stallings said when asked if it was strange to see the Razorbacks in something other than their traditional school colors. “I’m lucky to know what I’ve got on, let alone what they’re wearing.”
Arkansas’ football team has worn anthracite uniforms three times in the past two seasons with a 1-2 record in those games.
The Razorbacks added an anthracite helmet last November in a game against Mississippi State.
Wade walks in
Arkansas senior guard Mardracus Wade matched his season-high with 11 points to help the Razorbacks to a 40-2 advantage in bench scoring against Vanderbilt.
It was the third scoring effort of at least 10 points for Wade, a Memphis native, against the homestate Commodores. He scored 10 points against Vanderbilt in Fayetteville as a sophomore and 13 points last year at Memorial Gymnasium.
Wade made 3 of 5 shots from the floor, including 2 of 3 three-pointers, and 3 of 3 free throws. It was the first time this season Wade has hit more than one three pointer in a game.
Wade matched his season high with 27 minutes played. He also played 27 minutes against California at the Maui Invitational in November.
“I thought Wade gave us some great, great minutes,” Anderson said.
Arkansas and Vanderbilt kept lengthy three-pointer streaks going.
The Commodores were 8 of 21 from behind the three-point line and have hit at least one three-pointer in 887 consecutive games, which is every game they have played since the three point shot was adopted in college basketball. The Razorbacks hit 10 of 16 three-pointers to extend their streak to 827 games.
Arkansas nearly had the streak snapped Wednesday against Alabama. The Razorbacks were 1 of 13 in that game, with Bobby Portis hitting the team’s only three-pointer.
The 62.5 percent three point clip was Arkansas’ highest this season. The previous high was 50 percent, which Arkansas has managed three times in nonconference games against SIU-Edwardsville, SMU and Southeastern Louisiana. The Razorbacks entered the game shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Six Razorbacks hit at least one three-pointer at Vanderbilt. Michael Qualls hit 3 of 5, including the game-winner.
Vanderbilt came into Saturday’s game with a .783 winning percentage (742-206) at Memorial Gymnasium, but Arkansas has fared better at the venue than most teams.
The Razorbacks are 5-8 at Memorial Gymnasium with Saturday’s victory. Arkansas leads the all-time series 19-11.
Vanderbilt is located in Music City, and the school’s band has offered up a musical tribute to the Commodores’ seven scholarship players in recent games.
The band played the theme song from the movie The Magnificent Seven, a classic 1960s Western movie, during timeouts Saturday.
Vanderbilt’s roster has been hurt this year by transfers, suspensions and dismissals.
Sports, Pages 28 on 02/09/2014