Sills brings energy, intensity off bench

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, December 14, 2018
Desi Sills (0) of Arkansas gets fouled by Desean Murray of Western Kentucky in the second half of a game Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Desi Sills (0) of Arkansas gets fouled by Desean Murray of Western Kentucky in the second half of a game Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Desi Sills was a bright spot in the University of Arkansas basketball team's 78-77 loss to Western Kentucky on Saturday.

Sills, a 6-2 freshman guard from Jonesboro, had a season-high 9 points along with 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 16 minutes off the bench.

UP NEXT

Arkansas men vs Texas-San Antonio

WHEN 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE Verizon Arena, North Little Rock

RECORDS Arkansas 6-2; UTSA 3-6

SERIES Arkansas leads 5-0

TELEVISION None

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

"Desi willed us back into the game," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. "He was just dialed in."

Sills came into the game with 12:43 left and WKU leading 57-49 and scored all nine of his points in a 6:03 span, capped by a free throw that tied the game 70-70 with 4:32 left.

"I thought he was the spark plug coming off the bench," Anderson said. "I thought he brought energy.

"His effort was contagious. He did a good job of really distributing the ball and attacking."

Anderson said the starters came out sluggish in the second half after Arkansas took a 41-33 halftime lead.

Sills saw it, too.

"Sitting over on the sideline knowing the starting five was like kind of lacking on energy and my job is to come off the bench and give energy," Sills said after the game of his mindset. "That's what I wanted to do."

Sills hit 4 of 4 shots in the second half against the Hilltoppers.

"One thing Desi has added to the team is a lot of energy," said Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford, averaging team-highs of 18.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. "We have a lot of energy guys off the bench, but he's our main energy guy.

"He added that spark in the second half against WKU and we just couldn't find him after that.

"Going down the stretch we've got to do things such as find him when he gets hot, because he's been showing potential the last couple of days in practice -- and as ya'll can see in the game, also."

Gafford said Sills, one of nine newcomers for the Razorbacks, has shown good leadership skills.

"I like the fact he never backs down," Gafford said. "[Wednesday] in practice I was on one team and he was on the other. His team was losing and he's on the sideline trying to motivate his team to get with the program, run the floor and do certain things to bring them back in the game."

Sills has played in all eight games and is averaging 4.9 points, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals in 15.5 minutes. He's shooting 51.9 percent from the field (14 of 27) and has hit 7 of 12 free throws.

"He can score," Anderson said. "He can get to the basket. He's got a nice shot.

"He's getting more and more comfortable. You're seeing him do more things now. He can rebound for his size."

Anderson said he likes how vocal Sills is on the court, especially defensively.

"I love him, because he talks," Anderson said. "He's a communicator out there."

Sills said before the season that he takes a lot of pride in his defense.

"That's the first thing on my mind," he said. "I'm going to play defense with a lot of intensity."

Anderson said defense is Sills' strength right now.

"That's just his mindset," Anderson said. "The toughness factor."

Texas-San Antonio Coach Mike Henson -- whose team plays the Razorbacks on Saturday night at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock -- said he was impressed by Sills watching film of the Arkansas-Western Kentucky game.

"You expect Mike Anderson's teams to have good depth and have guys come in and pick up the intensity even more than the starting group, and Sills is definitely doing that for them," Henson said. "He can help them in a variety of ways with the way he can shoot and get in the paint to create baskets, and you see he can play defense, too."

Sills played on back-to-back Class 6A state championship teams at Jonesboro.

"Desi's a guy that's used to winning," Anderson said. "That's what I really like about him. He's going to do the things necessary to help you win.

"I think there's some big days ahead for him. I'm glad to see the progress starting to occur."

Sports on 12/14/2018

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