Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Qualls, Harris must be difference makers
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson talks with Alandise Harris, left, and Michael Qualls during the second half of the game against UTSA in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Saturday January 4, 2013.
FAYETTEVILLE - The Razorbacks were without Michael Qualls and Alandise Harris when they lost 88-74 to LSU on Feb. 1 in Baton Rouge.
Arkansas gets its rematch against the Tigers today at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Some games during Arkansas’ 4-7 SEC campaign, it didn’t matter whether the Hogs had Qualls and Harris available or left them sitting at home like that LSU game, when both were benched for a one-game disciplinary suspension by Coach Mike Anderson.
Then again, think of Qualls, the 6-6 high-flying guard/small forward, skying out of nowhere with his buzzer-beating follow-up dunk that beat Kentucky in overtime or hitting the three-pointer that beat Vanderbilt at Nashville, Tenn.
Now, coming off Thursday’s 86-85 loss at Missouri, think of Harris, a short forward who is probably shorter than his listing of 6-6 but a muscular one, powering around the basket to score 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench against Missouri.
A repeat performance today could perhaps offset some of the headaches that LSU big men Johnny O’Bryant and Jordan Mickey are almost guaranteed to inflict. O’Bryant had 23 points and nine rebounds while Mickey accounted for 22 points and 11 rebounds against Arkansas in Baton Rouge.
Now the equation changes with Arkansas maybe up two players - 6-10 freshman Moses Kingsley was iffy Friday because of an injured back at Missouri - and the home court.
Add Harris to Arkansas’ front court rotation with 6-10 freshman Bobby Portis, Kingsley, 6-7 senior Coty Clarke and 6-8 sophomore Jacorey Williams and maybe the Razorbacks can give LSU’s tall Tigers a contest up front.
No single Hog ignites Walton Arena like Qualls, the team’s most athletic player known for his highlight film dunks.
Certainly Harris and Qualls, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds against Missouri, came to Anderson’s mind during his post game radio show Thursday night.
“I thought Mike Qualls came in and gave us some great, great energy,” Anderson said. “And Alandise Harris, he was one guy I thought about having a breakout game here, that he would be a tough guy for them to match up with. He got to the free-throw line and made free throws [4 of 5].
“That’s only going to help us going down the stretch, because now you have added another dynamite weapon. I think he can give us that toughness we have got to have.”
Harris grabbed only one rebound, but Anderson said Friday that rebounding stats don’t always tell the full story.
“He is putting bodies on people,” Anderson said. “He is doing the grunt work. That’s why I have to go back and look at the tape and see what’s taking place. A lot of times he is keeping some of those big guys off so maybe our guards can get in there and Bobby and those guys can get some rebounds.
“Now we certainly want more rebounds from him, but I think he is giving us everything he’s got.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 02/15/2014