Hog Calls:

Harris orchestrates Hogs' symphony

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, December 8, 2018
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris goes for a layup during a game against Texas-Arlington on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris goes for a layup during a game against Texas-Arlington on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Every orchestra needs a conductor.

The orchestra of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball certainly has one. Sophomore 6-2 point guard Jalen Harris conducts these 6-1 Razorbacks as surely as Leonard Bernstein conducted the New York Philharmonic.

For seven games Harris has dealt 51 assists against but nine turnovers.

These last two games -- a 121-89 victory over Florida International University at Walton Arena and last Wednesday's 98-74 victory over Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. -- Harris totaled 22 assists.

He assisted 10 baskets while committing but one turnover in the track meet defining Arkansas vs. FIU then dealt 12 assists against two turnovers against Colorado State.

On a night in Fort Collins, Colo., when the Razorbacks' reserves, "deserved the game ball," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said for outscoring the CSU Rams' bench, 38-7, Harris was the Razorbacks' Radio Network Star of the Game.

Anderson concurred. Talk about setting a tone. Harris' handiwork spread contagious. The Razorbacks dealt 28 assists as a team against Colorado State. The 6-2 point guard complemented both ends of the floor with four steals, scored eight points on 4 of 8 shots and bagged six rebounds.

When the Hogs rolled he hammered the accelerator. When they floundered some as they did each half during Colorado State runs, Harris steadied the ship .

"I tell you what," Anderson said postgame Wednesday night. "More and more he's taking command out there on the floor. He settles them down and calms them down, and he can spur them up with aggressiveness. He's a big part of the head of this basketball team."

The one most involved in the success of others, assert Arkansas' top two scorers.

Sophomore big man Daniel Gafford, averaging 18.7 points, and freshman shooting guard Isaiah Joe averaging 16.0, both especially lauded Harris after the Florida International game. Joe scored a career high 34 points while Gafford scored 23.

"Jalen works on finding people," Gafford said. "He rewards big men for running, and he finds people that are hot as was the case with Isaiah. He has crazy court vision. He finds open people and makes crazy plays."

On his marvelous 34-point night, Joe marveled at Harris' help.

"Like Dan said, his IQ and court vision is just unbelievable," Joe said. "Being able to reward us like me and Dan and anybody else who's going really good, it's his game."

A game that Harris seems as thrilled to assist as the scorer is thrilled to score.

"As a coach you love that," Anderson said.

Like Dusty Hannahs transferring to Anderson's program as strictly a zone-busting shooter in two years Texas Tech coached to become a good all-around player and big time scorer his two Arkansas years, Harris prospered with an Arkansas redshirt year upon transferring.

Harris redshirt transferred last season after averaging 2.3 assists two seasons ago at 17-14 New Mexico.

He averages 7.3 assists for 6-1 Arkansas.

How much fun is that?

"A lot," Harris said. "More than anybody can imagine."

Sports on 12/08/2018


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