'Good things' taking place with Chaney in lineup

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2019
Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford (10) speaks with forward Reggie Chaney against LSU Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford (10) speaks with forward Reggie Chaney against LSU Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Mike Anderson had something of an epiphany Thursday when asked about Arkansas' seemingly annual 1-3 start to Southeastern Conference play.

After losing three of four to begin the league schedule in 2017, Arkansas won four straight, highlighted by a one-point win at Vanderbilt thanks to the last-second heroics of Daryl Macon. Last season, the Razorbacks won four of their next five, including a double-overtime win at Georgia before finishing 10-8.

What changed for Anderson's teams after the slow starts in league play the last two seasons, he said, was they became more connected and engaged defensively, the offense followed suit and he found more minutes for players who could bring positives to the lineup.

Unprompted, Anderson brought up freshman Reggie Chaney, who's coming off arguably the two most productive games of his young career in the last week. He did not score in a career-low five minutes in the 57-51 loss to Florida, but his resurgence against LSU and No. 3 Tennessee on Tuesday was noteworthy and ultra-valuable to a team in dire need of a punch of its bench and another dependable forward.

"A lot of good things have taken place with him out there on the floor now," Anderson said of Chaney. "Reggie, he’s one of those guys he can finish. He can make plays defensively, offensively. If you’ll notice, he touches a lot of balls out there and he comes up with them. But he rebonds the basketball. He can fix things. He’s athletic.

"I’m seeing him grow as a player. You really start seeing it when they’re consistent."

Chaney scored a combined two points in his first two SEC games then added his third game in double figures in Arkansas' last five against LSU, finishing with 12 points in 27 minutes - one off his career-high. He was 6/8 from the floor, grabbed four rebounds, had four steals and swatted a pair of Tigers shots.

He then scored 11 points Tuesday against the Volunteers on 5/7 shooting to go with five rebounds and a blocked shot. In conference play, Chaney has been Arkansas' best option at the 4 on both ends, hitting 12/21 shots - 11/15 in his last two games - and blocking a team-high five shots in 23 fewer minutes than Adrio Bailey, who is 10/31 from the floor and shooting 26 percent since Dec. 5.

Gabe Osabuohien has provided little offensively either since finishing with six big points in the win at Texas A&M. In the last three games, he's 0/4 shooting and 5/11 at the line.

Anderson said Thursday that Chaney complements Daniel Gafford, and the numbers over the course of the season back that up. Arkansas scores at a 1.11 PPP rate with both in the lineup and has held opponents to .88 PPP over 244 possessions.

Gafford said Chaney is beginning to step into his role more, a sentiment Anderson later agreed with.

"He comes off the bench and he gives us energy," Gafford said. "He gives us the extra body on the inside, takes some attention off the other guys. That’s basically my take on it because Reggie’s a dog. He’s going to do all the little things. He’s going to play defense, he’s going to get you a stop, he’s going to go get you rebounds, he’s going to do everything."

Asked about Bailey's rough nine-game stretch which began in the home loss to Western Kentucky, Anderson hinted that Bailey could be someone he brings in off the bench in the future. Bailey's offensive decline since Dec. 5 has been evident. He was 28/40 on 2-point looks in the team's first seven games, helping Arkansas score at a 1.17 PPP clip.

In nine games since, the Razorbacks' offense is scoring 1.02 PPP with him on the floor. Anderson, Gafford and Mason Jones all said Bailey is simply thinking too much. If it persists, it could lead to Chaney's breakthrough as a staple in Anderson's lineup.

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