Razorback Basketball Report:

Harris back on track

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris speaks with coach Mike Anderson against Texas State Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, during the second half in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas guard Jalen Harris speaks with coach Mike Anderson against Texas State Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, during the second half in Bud Walton Arena.

— Arkansas sophomore guard Jalen Harris had back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and Texas State in which he combined for five assists and four turnovers after being the NCAA leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at 7.56.

Harris has bounced back the past two games with 17 assists and 1 turnover in 62 minutes against Austin Peay and at Texas A&M.

For the season, Harris — a transfer from New Mexico — has 89 assists and 14 turnovers. He is second nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 6.36. He leads the SEC in assists with 6.8 per game.

“I wish I would have had him in high school,” Arkansas junior forward Adrio Bailey said. “He’s my dream point guard, can score when he wants to, distributes and makes plays.

“He’s the point guard I always wanted and now that I’ve got him we can only go up from here.”

Harris matched his career-high with 15 points at Texas A&M — he also scored 15 against Nevada two seasons ago when he played at New Mexico. He is averaging 9.5 points per game this season.

Frustrated White

Florida Coach Mike White’s frustration with his team’s inconsistency was evident when he spoke with media in Gainesville on Tuesday before his team left to play at Arkansas tonight.

White said the coaches know what they’ll be getting on a consistent basis from just three players: senior center Kevarrius Hayes, and freshmen guards Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard.

“Beyond that, it’s a crapshoot,” White said. “I tell our guys that every day, ‘You just don’t know what you’re going to get.’ That’s the challenge to the rest of the guys in the locker room.

“You’ve got three guys that perform at a championship level every day. Defensively, offensively, from an intensity standpoint, a focus standpoint. When you’ve got eight or nine of those guys, you’ve got a pretty good team. We’ve got upperclassmen that aren’t in that category.”

White said at times this season it’s been tough to get the best out of his players.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re dragging these guys a little bit,” he said. “That’s not a sign of a great team, when you’ve got to coach effort in practice.

“When you’ve got freshmen leading, not a sign of a great team. That’s where we’re at.”

Florida domination

Arkansas won its first five games against Florida from 1992-96 after the Razorbacks joined the SEC, but the Gators are 23-7 in their matchups since 1997.

The Razorbacks had lost eight consecutive games to Florida before beating the Gators 80-72 in the SEC Tournament last season in St. Louis.

In the last 23 games between the teams, Florida is 19-4.

“They just won games. That’s all,” said Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson, who is 2-9 against the Gators in eight seasons. “We’ve won some, they’ve won some.”

The Gators won national championships in 2006 and 2007 among four Final Four appearances between 2000 and 2014, and in four other seasons since 2011 they’ve advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

“They’ve won national championships, so they’ve had some good players there,” Anderson said. “In terms of the series … since I’ve been here, as we were building and getting our players in here, I think the games we’ve played them have been right there.”

Pressing issue

Florida Coach Mike White said his team was timid at times against South Carolina’s press — passing the ball side to side instead of attacking the basket — in losing to the Gamecocks 71-69 on Saturday, and that the Gators can’t make the same mistake against the Razorbacks.

“Aggressiveness will be key versus their press,” White said. “You’ve got to play confidently.

“You can look at the press as, ‘Boy, I hope I don’t turn this thing over.’ Or, ‘I’ve got an opportunity in the open floor to go make a play in transition offense.’ ”

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