Williams igniting Hogs with hustle

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams (22) takes a shot over Kentucky forward Julius Randle during the first half of play Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams (22) takes a shot over Kentucky forward Julius Randle during the first half of play Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas senior forward and captain Coty Clarke had a message for teammate Jacorey Williams before the Razorbacks played at Tennessee last week.

“I actually challenged him to playat a higher level than he was, and I’ve just been staying in his ear, because I know he can help us,” Clarke said. “I try to get him in the games, because I know what he brings to the table on offense and defense.

“Keep him relaxed, and let him know that everything is going to be OK. Just do the small things and the rest of your game will show.”

Williams, a 6-8 sophomore, has heeded Clarke’s advice and become a key player off the bench in recent games. He had 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist in 11 minutes in the Razorbacks’ 81-74 loss at Tennessee, then had 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot in 9 minutes in an 86-67 victory over Auburn on Saturday night.

“He’s gained more playing time,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “To me, he’s playing with a little attitude, and that’s what this team needs. Not only at home, but away, too.

“He’s learning what his role is - an energy guy, a hybrid forward that can do a lot of different things.”

Williams is 6 of 13 from the field the past two games, but Anderson said Williams’ game is not predicated on offense.

“That’s what I like about him,” Anderson said. “He comes in doing a lot of the little dirty work.”

Williams came into Saturday’s game after Auburn overcame an 8-0 deficit to tie the game 8-8. His rebound basket put Arkansas ahead for good at 10-8, and the Hogs outscored the Tigers 17-3 en route to taking a 36-25 halftime lead.

“I thought he was dynamite,” Anderson said.

“We just get complacent sometimes,” Williams said. “I try to get everybody else to play with me at a high energy.”

Williams didn’t play in the second half, when the Razorbacks shot 65.4 percent from the field (17 of 26) and gradually pulled away from the Tigers.

“The group we had out there was playing well,” Anderson said.

Williams said he wasn’t upset he didn’t play in the second half.

“I feel like I did my part,” he said. “I feel like I came in the game, played as hard as I could and it lifted everybody.

“In the second half it kept rolling. I wasn’t really frustrated about it or anything like that. I was just happy that we were winning.”

Williams, averaging 3.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 10.5 minutes in 19 games, figures to be a key reserve when the Razorbacks (13-6, 2-4 SEC) play Missouri (15-4, 3-3) at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Walton Arena.

“He can rebound and push it up the floor like a guard,” Anderson said. “He can extend a defense. He can make passes inside and then he can score. He has versatility on defense, because he can guard a guard or a forward.”

Williams and Clarke knew each other before they came to Arkansas last year, both growing up in Birmingham, Ala., where they played AAU basketball together. Which explains why Clarke felt comfortable enough to challenge Williams to raise his level of play before the Tennessee game.

“I wasn’t really thinking too much, I was just out there playing,” Williams said. “Everything was smooth.”SATURDAY’S GAMES Arkansas 86, Auburn 67 Vanderbilt 66, Texas A&M 55 Kentucky 79, Georgia 54 Mississippi 82, Mississippi State 63 Missouri 82, South Carolina 74 Florida 67, Tennessee 41 Alabama 82, LSU 80 TUESDAY’S GAMES All times Central Missouri at Arkansas, 6 p.m.

Kentucky at LSU, 8 p.m.

ARKANSAS MEN (13-6, 2-4 SEC) DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT Nov. 8 SIU-Edwardsville W, 99-65 Nov. 15 La.-Lafayette W, 76-63 Nov. 18 SMU W, 89-78 Nov. 25 California# L, 85-77 Nov. 26 Minnesota# W, 87-73 Nov. 27 Gonzaga# L, 91-81 Dec. 3 SE Louisiana W, 111-65 Dec. 7 Clemson W, 74-68 Dec. 12 Savannah St. W, 72-43 Dec. 19 Tennessee-Martin W, 102-56 Dec. 21 South Alabama% W, 72-60 Dec. 28 High Point W, 89-48 Jan. 4 Texas-San Antonio W, 104-71 Jan. 8 at Texas A&M L, 69-53 Jan. 11 Florida L, 84-82 (OT) Jan. 14 Kentucky W, 87-85 (OT) Jan. 18 at Georgia L, 66-61 (OT) Jan. 22 at Tennessee L, 81-74 Jan. 25 Auburn W, 86-67 Jan. 28 Missouri 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at LSU 4 p.m. Feb. 5 Alabama 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at Vanderbilt 3 p.m. Feb. 13 at Missouri 6 p.m. Feb. 15 LSU 4 p.m. Feb. 19 South Carolina 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Mississippi State 3 p.m. Feb. 27 at Kentucky 6 p.m. Mar. 1 Georgia 3 p.m. Mar. 5 Ole Miss 7 p.m. Mar. 8 at Alabama 3 p.m. Mar. 12-16 SEC Tournament Atlanta #Maui Invitational %Verizon Arena, North Little Rock SEC game

Up next ARKANSAS MEN VS. MISSOURI WHEN 6 p.m. Tuesday WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 13-6, 2-4 SEC, Missouri 15-4, 3-3 SERIES Arkansas leads 20-19 TV ESPNU RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network

Sports, Pages 13 on 01/27/2014