Razorbacks Report:

Starters a mystery for Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Arkansas forward Dustin Thomas shoots over the top of Missouri forward Kevin Puryear during a game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas forward Dustin Thomas shoots over the top of Missouri forward Kevin Puryear during a game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said he's not sure whether Darious Hall will stay in the starting lineup against Florida tonight or come off the bench.

Hall, a 6-6 freshman forward from Little Rock, made his first start against Missouri on Saturday and had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in 21 minutes to help the Razorbacks win 65-63.

"I just think that game by game I've got seven or eight starters, and we'll see what takes place in practice and then we'll move forward to the game," Anderson said. "I think no matter where [Hall] plays from, he's going to give us that kind of energy and play with a sense of urgency."

Hall is averaging 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds over the past three games while hitting 8 of 14 shots.

"Darious played real good and came with a lot of energy," senior guard Anton Beard said of Hall's start against Missouri. "He does that same thing in practice. He's everywhere on the court. He gets a lot of rebounds. He's just an energy guy.

"I've never seen somebody with so much energy in my life. Coach believed in him. Coach always says trust players, and he trusted him to go out there and start."

Free-throw struggles

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is shooting 66.5 percent on free throws (262 of 394) to rank 13th in the SEC and 303rd nationally out of 351 NCAA Division I teams.

The Razorbacks have shot even worse in SEC play. Their 59.6 percent (65 of 109) in five SEC games ranks 14th.

"We just have to keep working on them," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "You don't want to harp on them, but you have to put time in on them, and we do.

"We spend a lot of time on free throws, but they have to do some things on their own as well."

Senior guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, who joined the team as junior-college transfers last season, have improved in many areas, but not free-throw shooting.

Barford, who shot 75.2 percent on free throws last season, is at 67.6 percent (48 of 71) this season. Macon, who shot 86.6 percent last season and hit 14 of 14 free throws against Texas, is at 83.1 percent (59 of 71) this season.

Daniel Gafford, a 6-11 freshman, is at 54.0 percent (47 of 87). In SEC play, he's 11 of 26. Senior forward Trey Thompson also is down from 65.5 percent last season (19 of 29) to 50.0 percent this season (9 of 18). Senior guard Anton Beard is up to 80.4 percent this season (37 of 46) from 74.7 percent last season.

Senior forward Dustin Thomas has improved slightly to 66.7 percent (20 of 30) this season from 65.7 percent (46 of 70). Sophomore forward Adrio Bailey is at 55.0 percent (11 of 20), but that's a vast improve over last season's 31.5 percent (6 of 19).

Sophomore guard C.J. Jones has hit 80 percent (12 of 15) on the season, despite being 1 of 4 in his most recent attempts. Freshman forward Darious Hall is at 59.3 percent (16 of 27).

"We put in different situations and different scenarios [in practice] so they can work on it," Anderson said. "But they have to go out there and just have the calmness to go and make them."

Impact transfers

The Gators' top two scorers didn't begin their college careers at Florida.

Jalen Hudson, a 6-6 junior guard averaging 16.2 points, redshirted last season after transferring from Virginia Tech.

Egor Koulechov, a 6-5 guard averaging 15.2 points, is a graduate transfer who was a starter the previous two seasons at Rice. Last season he averaged 18.3 points.

Florida is Koulechov's third college. He began his career at Arizona State, where he averaged 3.7 points as a freshman before transferring to Rice.

Stagnant offense

Arkansas is averaging 85.1 points on the season, but 73.2 in five SEC games.

Subtract the Razorbacks' 22-point overtime period in their 95-93 victory over Tennessee -- the game was tied 73-73 at the end of regulation -- and Arkansas is averaging 68.8 points per 40 minutes in SEC play.

"I think some of it is coming from sometimes we're tired out there playing," guard Anton Beard said. "We've just got to sometimes put our hands up and come out of the game.

"Sometimes we get kind of stagnant where we're just watching somebody. Whoever's got the ball, we just start watching him."

Forward Trey Thompson said some of the offensive struggles result from Arkansas not getting enough stops on defense and forcing turnovers that can create easy baskets.

"A lot of our points usually come in transition," Thompson said. "Once we get in the half court, I think we get stagnant and the spacing on the floor isn't right.

"It's just something we need to work on in practice every day."

Keeping up with Jones

Arkansas sophomore guard C.J. Jones' scoring average has dropped from 11.1 points to 7.9 over the past six games as his shooting slump continues.

Jones shot 52.4 percent (43 of 82) in the first 11 games, including 43.1 percent on three-pointers. He hit 11 of 11 free throws.

In the past six games since scoring 15 points against Oral Roberts University, Jones has hit 5 of 28 shots, including 1 of 13 three-pointers, and 1 of 4 free throws.

Coach Mike Anderson said Jones has been pressing too much.

"That's young players for you," Anderson said. "Hopefully, we can get him to the free-throw line and get him out in transition."

Anderson said Jones continues to play hard and that by averaging 16.5 minutes a game he's providing some rest for senior guards Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon and Anton Beard.

"Hopefully, his time to shine will be on the road," Anderson said of tonight's game.

Sports on 01/17/2018

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