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.
In the lane:
Fouls ruin UA hopes for victory
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson speaks to players against South Carolina during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the second round of the Southeastern Conference men's tournament, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
ATLANTA - Arkansas was called for 28 fouls in its 71-69 loss to South Carolina on Thursday in the SEC Tournament.
That’s the second-highest fouls total for the Razorbacks this season. They were called for 29 fouls in a home victory against Kentucky and road losses at Georgia and Tennessee. The Kentucky and Georgia games went overtime.
“That’s just how we play every game,” Arkansas junior guard Ky Madden said after Thursday’s game. “Some games they call it, and some games they don’t. It just so happened this game, they called it, and we didn’t make the adjustments that we needed to.
“Hopefully, the next game, we will.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said the Razorbacks fouled unnecessarily in some cases as the Gamecocks hit 30 of 41 free throws.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes down the stretch, putting guys on the freethrow line, fouling 94 feet [from the basket],” Anderson said. “All we had to do was have confidence in our defense to get stops.
“We made stops. They only shot 38 percent from the field (18 of 47), but then you factor in 40 free throws. You can overcome a lot of things, but you can’t overcome that.”
Razorbacks senior forward Coty Clarke said the Gamecocks deserved credit for aggressively going to the basket.
“When you’re not playing attack basketball, then you won’t get to the free-throw line,” Clarke said. “So I just credit them for attacking and making the refs call the foul.”
The Razorbacks looked to be on a roll when they won six consecutive SEC regular-season games, their longest streak since 1998.
But the struggles of the early part of the conference season, when the Razorbacks started 2-6, returned in their last two games, an 83-58 loss at Alabama last Saturday followed by their loss Thursday to South Carolina.
The Razorbacks were outrebounded by a combined 81-50 by the Crimson Tide and Gamecocks - 41-26 at Alabama and 40-24 against South Carolina.
“I credit both of those teams,” Arkansas forward Coty Clarke said. “We got outplayed [at Alabama].
We just weren’t mentally prepared or focused. Today it was just who wanted it more.”
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said the play of the game came when 6-5 sophomore guard Brian Steele, who averages 0.9 rebounds per game, scored on an offensive rebound to give the Gamecocks a 64-63 lead with 3:55 left.
“We were starting to reel a little bit, and we had a bad offensive possession,”Martin said. “But instead of standing around there watching, Brian ran after the offensive rebound and put it back.
“That doesn’t sound like much, but it was a crucial play in a difficult moment of the game for us. That play gave life to us to fight the next play.”
Moses brings it
Several Arkansas players said after the South Carolina game that they were outhustled, but Moses Kingsley was one Razorback who showed passion and energy.
Kingsley, a 6-10 freshman, had 7 points, 4 blocked shots and 2 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
Frank & Mike
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin improved to 6-5 against Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson. Martin’s South Carolina teams are 2-1 against Anderson’s Razorbacks and his Kansas State teams were 4-4 against Anderson’s Missouri Tigers.
The home team had won every matchup before Thursday. The SEC Tournament marked the first time their teams had played at a neutral site.
The Razorbacks beat the Gamecocks 71-64 in Fayetteville during the regular season.
Break them up
South Carolina (14-19) has won three consecutive games against SEC teams for the first time this season.
The Gamecocks won their regular-season finale, 74-62 at Mississippi State last Saturday, then opened the SEC Tournament by beating Auburn 74-56 before beating Arkansas.
“Survive and advance,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. “That’s all you’re geared up to do at this time of year.”
Martin said the Gamecocks didn’t have “as much pep in our step” playing Arkansas after beating Auburn, but they managed to hang on against the Razorbacks.
“On the sideline, I thought our coaches did a great job of just keeping the fight in our guys and the belief in our guys,” Martin said. “Then hats off to them, that every time it seemed like ‘Oh, no,’ somebody stepped up and made a play to stop the bleeding and then give us life again.”
South Carolina senior guard Brenton Williams, who scored 29 points against Arkansas earlier this season, was held to 10 points in Thursday’s game. He was 1 of 4 on field goal attempts and 0 of 3 on three-pointers after shooting 11 of 20 - including 6 of 13 three-pointers - in the teams’ first game this season.
“When we were at their place, they left him and he made a bunch of shots,” Gamecocks Coach Frank Martin said. “They weren’t leaving him alone today.”
Sports, Pages 26 on 03/14/2014