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.
Scott ready when opportunity arises
Arkansas senior Rickey Scott, left, drives to the lane as Alabama senior Trevor Releford defends during the first half of play Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - By doing nothing in six of the previous 15 SEC games, Rickey Scott did something for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Nobody is more capable of poisoning the well of team morale than a sulking senior who has played a lot during the course of his career but hardly at all in his final year of eligibility.
Scott had all the qualifications to go that route but didn’t take it. Periodic questions over the season to Arkansas’ staff about the senior guard netted the same answers.
Inconsistencies that dogged Scott’s up-and-down career and the maturing and addition of other guards curtailed his playing time, but nothing held back his attitude.If he had negative thoughts, he wasn’t expressing them. He just kept practicing hard, always striving to be ready to answer the call, which seems to come inevitably but unexpectedly with teams coached by Mike Anderson.
Scott got the call Saturday in the next-to-last home game, and he answered it big time.
The Hogs were tired physically and emotionally from last Thursday night’s 71-67 overtime victory at Kentucky. They needed a fresh infusion off the bench late in the first half of Saturday afternoon’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Walton Arena.
Scott was fresh, having not played in the past three games, and he played like it.
The 6-3, 209-pounder, who is among the most athletic Razorbacks, emerged in the final six minutes of the first half during Arkansas’ 16-2 run. He hustled like a demon on defense, grabbed a rebound that led to a spectacular dunk by Michael Qualls and nailed a threepoint shot. In four second-half minutes, Scott contributed two more rebounds and a big putback en route to Arkansas going up by 15 and eventually winning, 87-75.
Qualls scored 20 points, but he made it a point to point out Scott’s accomplishments before taking questions about his own performance following the game.
“Rickey came in and did some wonderful things for us,” Qualls said.
Georgia Coach Mark Fox said he wasn’t surprised that Scott emerged from mothballs to torpedo the Bulldogs.
“They have such a deep team that minutes are probably hard to come by, but he’s played a lot in his career,” Fox said. “No, it’s not a surprise because he’s been a good player before.”
Anderson said Scott’s good play matched his good attitude.
“I always tell them you never know when your turn is going to come,” Anderson said. “He came in and gave us a big lift right before the half that enabled us to get the momentum. He hit some shots, but more importantly his defense, getting loose balls. He’s an important part to our team, especially as we get ready to go down the stretch.”
Scott has been intangibly important to this team all year for what he hasn’t done. Now he goes into his final home game Wednesday with coaches and teammates proudly pointing at the tangibles of what he just did.
Sports, Pages 16 on 03/03/2014