Anderson, Hogs aim to rebound

By: Bob Holt
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe, left, shoots while defended by Arkansas' Moses Kingsley (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe, left, shoots while defended by Arkansas' Moses Kingsley (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' men's basketball team will look to bounce back from a 26-point loss at Kentucky when the Razorbacks play Mississippi State tonight at Walton Arena.

The No. 6 Wildcats beat the Razorbacks 97-71 last Saturday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., pulling away after leading 41-38 at halftime.

"Kentucky is a great team, so that can happen to anybody in our conference, and to anybody in the country for that matter," Mississippi State Coach Ben Howland said. "Arkansas will respond. I'm sure. and come back with a renewed emphasis on everything they do."

Arkansas (12-3, 1-2 SEC) won eight consecutive games after its first loss this season at No. 24 Minnesota and won at Tennessee after losing at home to No. 23 Florida.

"These guys have been pretty resilient coming back and working extremely hard and taking the coaching from the standpoint of the things we've got to do to get better," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said.

The final margin at Kentucky, Anderson said, wasn't indicative of how competitive the Razorbacks played for much of the game.

"I thought it was a game that we gave ourselves a chance, and we just lost our poise there a little bit in the first half, and especially in the second half and allowed them to take control of the tempo," he said. "But coming into the next game, you've got to turn that page quick.

"We're still in the race. In order to continue to be in that race, you have to take care of home."

Howland said Arkansas is improved over last season with the addition of junior college transfer guards Daryl Macon (averaging 14.1 points per game) and Jaylen Barford (10.2), and has a strong presence inside with senior center Moses Kingsley, who is averaging 11.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocked shots.

"Moses Kingsley plays as hard as anybody in our conference," Howland said. "He's got such a great motor."

Howland, who led UCLA to three Final Four appearances as the Bruins' coach, said Arkansas is an NCAA Tournament team.

"It's a great challenge for us to play a team that's going to be in the NCAA Tournament on their home floor," he said. "They're really talented."

The Bulldogs (10-4, 1-1) won 95-78 at LSU last Saturday.

"I hope that inspires confidence," Howland said. "It's a very important thing to have when you're playing the game.

"I know the atmosphere at Bud Walton Arena is second to none, so that'll be a new experience for our young guys that have never been there before."

Mississippi State has eight freshmen, including starters Mario Kegler (9.7 points per game) and Tyson Carter (9.4 points).

Point guard I.J. Ready, who played at Little Rock Parkview High School, is the Bulldogs' only senior.

"This is his last game to play in Arkansas on the schedule, so I'm sure he's excited about coming home," Anderson said. "We've seen that when guys come back to the state, they're going to leave everything out on the floor.

"He's the leader of their basketball team and a really good player."

Ready is averaging 10.5 points, 5.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game. He had 13 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds with 1 turnover in 26 minutes at LSU and hit 5 of 6 shots, including 3 of 4 three-pointers.

"I.J. missed three days of practice with his [sore] knee and came back and had his best game of the season, in my opinion, against LSU," Howland said. "He's all about the team and helping us. I love that about I.J."

Sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon is averaging a team-high 17.7 points for Mississippi State and sophomore forward Aric Holman is averaging 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds.

The Bulldogs shot 54.1 percent from the field (33 of 61) against LSU, including 11 of 22 on three-pointers.

"They have some young, talented players and they have depth," Anderson said. "Of course like Ben Howland's teams, they're not going to beat themselves.

"So it's a game where we need to come out and play defense for 40 minutes. Not 20 minutes, not 30 minutes, but for 40 minutes."

Sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon is averaging a team-high 17.7 points for Mississippi State and sophomore forward Aric Holman is averaging 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds.

The Bulldogs shot 54.1 percent from the field (33 of 61) against LSU, including 11 of 22 on three-pointers.

"They have some young, talented players and they have depth," Anderson said. "Of course, like Ben Howland's teams, they're not going to beat themselves.

"So it's a game where we need to come out and play defense for 40 minutes. Not 20 minutes, not 30 minutes, but for 40 minutes."

Anderson also said he believes the Razorbacks are trending upward.

"This is an opportunity for us to get better," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to get a bad taste out of our mouth of not finishing what we started up at Kentucky."

Sports on 01/10/2017

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.