In The Lane:

Car crash leaves refs down man

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, December 9, 2018
Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury talks to an official during a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury talks to an official during a game against Arkansas on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Western Kentucky Coach Rick Stansbury seemed OK with having only a two-man officiating crew for the Hilltoppers' 78-77 upset of the University of Arkansas on Saturday.

After official Robert Felder was involved in a fender bender in Fayetteville while heading to the game, he was taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure. That left lead official Brian Shey and Will Howard to work the game.

Stansbury, the former longtime assistant and head coach at Mississippi State, began working the crew prior to tipoff.

"Hey, I can't talk about officiating, but I said, 'Hey, it's good,' " Stansbury said. "That's one less guy we've got to worry about being bad.

"Most of the times I've been up here, we've had three bad ones. We're just gonna have two bad ones this time. So I told them that.

"Hey, it is what it is. They did as good a job as they could do. I told Brian [Shey] that. It's not an easy game to officiate. Any time you officiate an Arkansas game it's not easy because those guys are active. I mean, they're pressing you, they're into you.

"And y'all know I was on them, too. But we got as good of a called game as we could get."

Stansbury noted the Hilltoppers took 17 foul shots compared to 16 for Arkansas.

"That's a good stat for us," he said. "On the road, in particular."

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson was asked what effect he thought the two-man crew had on the game.

"No comment," Anderson said.

Shey and Howard went light on the foul calls, whistling 15 fouls on the Hilltoppers -- including three in a stretch of 30 seconds late in the game -- and 13 on the Razorbacks.

According to the HogStats.com statistical website, the last time a two-man crew worked an Arkansas game came in a 96-82 loss to Ole Miss at Walton Arena on Jan. 17, 2015.

Streaks end

Western Kentucky became the first nonconference team to beat Arkansas at Walton Arena since Akron posted an 88-80 victory Nov. 18, 2015.

The Razorbacks had a 28-game winning streak against nonconference teams snapped. The only nonconference teams to defeat Arkansas at Walton Arena under Coach Mike Anderson, who is 67-3 in those games, are Syracuse, Akron and Western Kentucky.

"Give Western Kentucky a lot of credit," Anderson said. "I thought they came in with the right mindset. In the end, they wanted it more than we did. I thought we looked sluggish on defense in terms of getting to spots, and it came down to making plays."

Arkansas also had its 46-game winning streak when leading at halftime snapped. The Hogs led 41-33 at the break but were outscored 14-5 to start the second half.

"We knew the first four minutes of the second half was kind of the game," Western Kentucky Coach Rick Stansbury said. "We came out and responded, which we haven't been good at."

Big man match

Arkansas' 6-11 Daniel Gafford and Western Kentucky's 6-11 freshman Charles Bassey went at it just about every minute the two were on the floor.

Bassey scored a game-high 21 points on 7 of 11 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws, and he had 9 rebounds, 5 blocked shots, an assist and no turnovers. Gafford scored 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 3 of 3 free throws, and he had 9 rebounds, 2 blocked shots, 1 assist and 1 steal to go along with 2 turnovers.

Gafford scored five seconds into the game after winning the tip and taking a feed from Jalen Harris.

"I think Charles, from the tip, had to understand what we said about how fast Gafford is in transition," Rick Stansbury said. "He didn't go in transition from the tip, he just started from half court and got a layup. It's like he was shot out of a cannon. Not many big guys can run like Gafford."

Three streak

Arkansas and Western Kentucky both extended their matching long streaks of games with a made three-pointer.

Isaiah Joe hit a three-pointer at the 18:17 mark to give Arkansas a 6-2 lead. Taveion Hollingsworth made the Hilltoppers' first three-pointer at the 14:23 mark to cut their deficit to 17-11.

The Razorbacks and Hilltoppers are tied for fourth in the country with 985 consecutive games with a made three-pointer. They trail NCAA leader UNLV (1,046 games entering Saturday), Vanderbilt (1,039) and Duke (1,030).

Fault line

Arkansas' poor free-throw shooting proved costly, as the Razorbacks made just 9 of 16 (56.3 percent) at the stripe.

"You go back over the course of the game and free throws kind of add up," Coach Mike Anderson said. "They made theirs, especially the big guy [Charles Bassey], he was making free throws going down the stretch."

Arkansas freshman Desi Sills called free-throw success a mental thing.

"We're going to get in practice tomorrow, and we're going to take it from there," he said.

Arkansas has hit less than 60 percent in both of its losses, including a season-low 54.2 percent in the 73-71 loss in overtime to Texas in the opener.

Ejection

Western Kentucky's Josh Anderson was ejected with 2:04 left in the first half after raking Isaiah Joe on the face and not making a play on the ball during a breakaway layup.

Joe completed a three-point play after officials reviewed the tape, but the Razorbacks did not take full advantage of the flagrant 2 call against Anderson. Joe missed the free throw for the flagrant foul, then Jalen Harris missed a three-point shot to leave the Hogs' lead at 36-28.

Rick in Bud

Western Kentucky Coach Rick Stansbury improved his all-time record at Walton Arena as an assistant coach and head coach to 5-19. All of his previous victories here came as the head coach at Mississippi State, when he had a 4-10 mark at Walton Arena.

Stansbury is now 24-25 against Arkansas as an assistant and head coach at all venues.

Sports on 12/09/2018

Discussion

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