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.
Hogs defend their home against Gator invasion
Arkansas' Alandise Harris (2) defends Southeastern Louisiana's Antonnio Benton (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. Arkansas won 111-65. (AP Photo/Sarah Bentham)
FAYETTEVILLE - This hasn’t been a good week for college basketball teams with home winning streaks.
It started Sunday, when San Diego State beat Kansas 61-57 to end the Jayhawks’ 68-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse against nonconference teams.
Georgia won 70-64 in overtime Wednesday at Mizzou Arena to break Missouri’s 26-game home winning streak, which had been tied for the nation’s longest.
On Thursday night Memphis won 73-67 at Louisville to stop the defending national champion’s 15-game home winning streak and California won 100-91 at Oregon, ending the Ducks’ home winning streak at 11 games.
“All these teams have been losing their home winning streak,” Arkansas junior forward Alandise Harris said. “We can’t be part of that.”
The Razorbacks (11-3, 0-1 SEC) will try and extend their Walton Arena winning streak to 24 games when they play No. 10 Florida (12-2, 1-0) at noon today in their conference home opener. Arkansas’ 23-game home winning streak is the fourth-longest in the nation behind Stephen F. Austin (26), Duke (25) and Florida (24).
“It means a lot knowing that we’re a team that takes care of our home territory,” Razorbacks sophomore guard Anthlon Bell said. “We want to stick to that.”
The Razorbacks are 43-4 at Walton Arena in Coach Mike Anderson’s three seasons but just 2-19 in road games after losing 69-53 at Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
“Coach [Billy] Donovan says they’re a top-10 team at home,” Florida senior center Patric Young said. “I don’t know what it is, but when they’re there they’re a completely different team. We have to prepare for that. We can’t take them lightly like we did last year.”
The Razorbacks beat the No. 2 Gators 80-69 last season in Walton Arena, making 15 of their first 20 shots while jumping out to a 49-26 lead in the first half.
“They were making everything,” Young said. “They were making every three, and they weren’t even that good a three-point shooting team. It was ridiculous.”
Donovan, in his 18th season as Florida’s coach, is 4-5 in games at Arkansas.
“I think it’s a great place to play,” Donovan said. “They get great fan support. There’s a lot of enthusiasm there.”
The Razorbacks are averaging 90.7 points and shooting 51.2 percent from the field in their nine victories at Walton Arena this season.
“It’s like an extra edge,” Harris said. “People already have a little bit on their mind because they’re scared of the pressure. They know that it’s very hard to win here.”
With No. 14 Kentucky playing at Walton Arena on Tuesday night, it’s critical for the Razorbacks to keep winning at home before back-to back games at Georgia and Tennessee.
“We can’t even look forward to the next two,” Anderson said. “We’ve just got to look forward to this game here, and just trying to get better. Let’s get better in the areas that we’ve been good in all year long, and the areas we didn’t do well in the other night.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks can’t be tentative offensively like they were at Texas A&M, where in the second half they shot 26.9 percent (7 of 26).
“We started turning down 8-foot shots to try to get a 2-foot shot,” Anderson said. “That’s when you start thinking. We want to eliminate the thinking and let’s go play basketball.”
Arkansas’ top two scorers, Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis, were a combined 4 of 22 from the field. Portis is the only Razorback to start every game, and Anderson said Qualls will start today after coming off the bench in the past three games.
“I hope they bounce back because this is going to bean even bigger, more physical team,” Harris said. “I’m hoping they’ll come back and play athletic and give us a boost.”
WEDNESDAY’S GAMES Texas A&M 69, Arkansas 53 Florida 74, South Carolina 58 Georgia 70, Missouri 64, OT Kentucky 85, Mississippi State 63
THURSDAY’S GAME Mississippi 65, Auburn 62
TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Florida at Arkansas, noon LSU at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
Missouri at Auburn, 1 p.m.
Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 2:30 p.m.
Alabama at Georgia, 3 p.m.
Mississippi at Mississippi State, 3 p.m.
Texas A&M at Tennessee, 5 p.m.
Today’s game ARKANSAS MEN VS. NO. 10 FLORIDA
WHEN Noon WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 11-3, 0-1 SEC. Florida 12-2, 1-0 SERIES Florida leads 16-11 RADIO Razorback Sports Network TELEVISION ESPN2 TICKETS $25 lower and upper deck, $20 loft (west end zone above 4th row)
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/11/2014