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.
UA guard stays on even keel
Arkansas guard Fred Gulley (12) scores around Kentucky forward Julius Randle, top, and guard Aaron Harrison during the first half of play Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Fred Gulley values the basketball.
In his last 225 minutes on the court for the Arkansas Razorbacks covering 14 games, Gulley has 6 turnovers with 21 assists.
“I didn’t realize that, but I try to be a steady guy,” said Gulley, a fifth-year senior guard from Fayetteville. “I always try to take care of the ball. I want to be somebody that’s a stabilizer for the team.
“If things are going bad, you can get the ball in my hands and I’ll make the right play.”
Junior guard Ky Madden said Gulley provides the Razorbacks with leadership, experience and toughness.
“He’s not afraid of nothing,” Madden said. “He doesn’t get down on himself, whether he makes a bad play or a good play. He’s always even-minded, just staying himself.
“That’s what we need on this team. He calms us down.”
Gulley is known for his defense and passing, but he scored nine points in Arkansas’ 87-85 overtime victory over No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday night. He came into the game averaging 3.6 points but scored seven points in a 1:36 span in the first half, hitting a three-point basket, a driving layup and a jump shot.
“I got some looks and I took them,” Gulley said. “My teammates got me the ball in a position where I could make some plays. I’m glad I could complete them.”
Gulley said while it’s fun to score, his primary focus remains on defense.
“I just take pride in it,” he said. “I go into every game, every possession, thinking, ‘My man’s not going to score, and even if my man’s not going to score, I’m going to try and help my teammates if their man gets by them.’ “
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said Gulley has good size and length for a guard defensively.
“I think more importantly, he’s got the want-to,” Anderson said. “He wants to play defense.”
Gulley, who transferred to Arkansas from Oklahoma State in January 2012, has played in a combined 75 games for the Razorbacks and Cowboys. He was an Oklahoma State freshman starter when the Cowboys beat No. 1 Kansas 85-77.
“I’ve been part of some good wins,” he said.
But Gulley said Tuesday night probably was the best game he’s played in college, considering the opponent and the circumstances, with the Razorbacks at 0-2 in the SEC after losing in overtime at home to Florida.
Arkansas beat Kentucky when Michael Qualls scored on a put back dunk with 0.2 seconds left in a game nationally televised by ESPN and played before a season-how crowd of 18,886 in Walton Arena.
“It was awesome,” Gulley said. “The crowd was crazy. Bud Walton was rocking. It was an amazing atmosphere. Being out there on the court and being able to contribute made it even better.
“It was on Super Tuesday, so it was good to play on the main stage.”
Gulley came out with 16:34 left in regulation after drawing his fourth foul, but he played 13 more minutes without fouling out.
“He played with four fouls in that second half for the longest period, and he was very effective at guarding the perimeter players that they have,” Anderson said. “He gave us great energy.”
Gulley, a starter in 14 of 16 games, is averaging 16.2 minutes but played 27 against Florida and 24 against Kentucky.
“He’s a facilitator,” Anderson said. “He understands what the coaching staff is asking from him and what he can do to help our basketball team. He’s not trying to do things he can’t do.”
Gulley said it’s been exciting to get more minutes the past two games.
“This is why we got up at 6 a.m. and did all this conditioning,” he said. “I make sure I take care of my body so while I’m out there I’m giving the team quality minutes instead of quantity.”
Anderson said Gulley’s play at point guard has allowed Madden to take on more of a scoring load. Madden, who averaged 4.2 points last season, is averaging 11.7 this season, including 17.7 in SEC games.
“Fred doesn’t worry about scoring, and that’s what you want in a guy in that position,” Anderson said.
Gulley said he’s developed a good rapport with Madden.
“We’re constantly talking and he’s letting me know he’s going to run the floor, so I’m always trying to get him the ball in positions where he can score and make the most of his game,” Gulley said. “He’s helped me out, too. I really like playing with him, because he moves the ball well.”
After sitting out two semesters at Arkansas in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, Gulley became eligible to play for the Razorbacks in the ninth game last season. Now he’s more comfortable in his role on the team.
“Last year it was kind of like getting thrown into the fire, especially with conference just being around the corner,” Gulley said. “I got to do a full off-season and summer of working out and preparing my game, and it’s really benefited me, and then especially getting to play in all the games before conference.”
Gulley said he’s glad he made the decision to transfer and play back home for Arkansas in front of his family and friends.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “I couldn’t hope for anything more.”Fred Gulley glance COLLEGE Arkansas POSITION Guard HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-2, 182 CLASS Fifth-year senior AGE 22 (born May 10, 1991) HIGH SCHOOL Fayetteville NOTEWORTHY Has started 14 of 16 games this season and is averaging 3.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in 16.2 minutes.
… Has 28 assists and 10 turnovers. … Has six turnovers in past 225 minutes played. … Scored nine points against Kentucky. … Scored career-high 10 points against Minnesota in the Maui Invitational. … Transferred to Arkansas from Oklahoma State in January 2012 and played in 21 games last season, averaging 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 13.0 minutes. … Started 17 games as a freshman for Oklahoma State’s 2010 NCAA Tournament team. … Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Mr. Basketball in 2008 when he helped Fayetteville to a 30-0 record and a Class 7A state championship.
Up next ARKANSAS AT GEORGIA WHEN 12:30 p.m. Central Saturday WHERE Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.
RECORDS Arkansas 12-4, 1-2 SEC; Georgia 8-7, 2-1 RADIO Razorback Sports Network TELEVISION KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock; KHBS/KHOG, Channel 40-29, in Northwest Arkansas; KAIT, Channel 8, in Jonesboro.
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/17/2014