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.
Razorbacks trying to make it to finish
Arkansas guard Kikko Haydar tries to rally the team against Missouri late in the first half Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - The winter storm that stranded Kentucky’s basketball team in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night after LSU beat the No. 11 Wildcats has moved out of the area.
It was 55 degrees in Baton Rouge on Thursday and temperatures are forecast to be in the 60s today and in the 70s on Saturday, so the Arkansas Razorbacks shouldn’t experience any problems traveling for Saturday’s game against the Tigers in Maravich Assembly Center or returning home.
Road problems for Arkansas happen after the game starts.
The Razorbacks (13-7, 2-5 SEC) will again try for their first road victory of the season when they play the Tigers (13-6 and 4-3) at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
Arkansas is 0-3 on the road - with losses at Texas A&M, Georgia and Tennessee - and 2-21 in Mike Anderson’s three seasons as coach.
ARKANSAS at LSU
WHEN 4 p.m. Central Saturday
WHERE Maravich Assembly Center, Baton Rouge, La.
RECORDS Arkansas 13-7, 2-5 SEC; LSU 13-6, 4-3
SERIES Arkansas leads 31-25
RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network
Anderson said the Razorbacks have made positive strides considering they lost their road opener at Texas A&M 69-53 and then held second-half leads - seven points at Georgia and eight at Tennessee - before losing to the Bulldogs 66-61 in overtime and to the Vols 81-74.
The Razorbacks were especially focused and engaged at Tennessee, Anderson said, and did a good job of putting themselves in position to win.
“I think that’s something for us to build on,” he said. “It’s a two-point game with three minutes to go. We’re right where we need to be. We’re rebounding with them, we’re defending, we’re moving the basketball, we’re sharing it.
“We’ve just got to get to the point where we finish the win.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks continue to draw closer to becoming a team that will win road games.
“Almost like you can put your finger on it,” he said.
Arkansas, which lost to Missouri 75-71 on Tuesday night in Walton Arena, has three of its next four games on the road, but Anderson said he’s confident the the Razorbacks aren’t becoming discouraged.
“I think they’ve responded in a positive way,” he said. “I think they’re competing. They’re battling.”
LSU Coach Johnny Jones, whose Tigers beat Missouri 77-71 at home last week, said his team won’t take the Razorbacks lightly after seeing how close they came to winning at Georgia and Tennessee.
“They were very competitive in both of those games and had their chances. They’re a team that’s very capable on the road and just some things have happened,” Jones said. “They’re certainly one of those teams looking for the next opportunity, so you have to make sure that you try to guard against that.”
Four of the Razorbacks’ SEC losses have been by an average of 4.5 points, with two going into overtime, including an 84-82 home loss to No. 3 Florida.
“We’re getting a lot of experience, let me put it that way,” Anderson said. “So, it’s time for us to cash in on that.”
Anderson was asked about possibly changing personnel, such as the starting lineup or substitution pattern, or if he planned to coach any differently.
“We’re doing a lot of things right … so you don’t go crazy,” he said. “But I think we can have some more energy guys injected in the game so maybe we can finish stronger.”
LSU is led by 6-9 junior Johnny O’Bryant, who had 29 points against Kentucky and hit 12 of 20 shots. He’s averaging 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Freshman Jordan Mickey, 6-8, is averaging 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds with a team high 69 blocked shots. He had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 blocks against Kentucky.
“We’ll have our hands full because of their size,” Anderson said. “Rebounding the basketball, we’ve got to do it by committee.”
Sports, Pages 23 on 01/31/2014