Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Hogs don't let up on Governors
Arkansas senior guard Dusty Hannahs rises for a 3-pointer in the Razorbacks' 99-62 win over Austin Peay on Saturday, December 3.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' basketball team is undefeated at home this season, but the Razorbacks have shown a tendency to build leads, then let their opponents creep back into the game.
It happened again in the first half Saturday night, but the Razorbacks made sure it wasn't an issue in the second half.
Arkansas kept pouring it on and beat Austin Peay 99-62 at Walton Arena before a season-high announced crowd of 10,059.
The Razorbacks (6-1) outscored the Governors 58-31 after halftime, including a 21-0 run that pushed their lead from 50-37 to 71-37 with 12:10 left.
"We just decided to keep our foot on the pedal and not just let up," Arkansas freshman forward Adrio Bailey said. "Don't let them get nothing."
The Razorbacks had a letdown late in the first half when Austin Peay cut a 17-point deficit to 41-31 and heard about it from Coach Mike Anderson in the locker room.
"That halftime speech was pretty intense," Arkansas junior guard Jaylen Barford said. "So it made us go to a whole different level.
"We just held each other accountable on defense and kept pushing, kept pushing and kept pushing."
Austin Peay Coach Dave Loos said the Governors had a goal of getting within 10 points by halftime, but the Razorbacks didn't let them get any closer.
"I thought their whole team had an altogether different approach in the second half than earlier in the game," Loos said. "I told our guys you better be strong with the ball because they're smelling blood out there.
"They're willing to do the dirty work. I used them as an example to our team. They grind it out. I mean, they'll guard you.
"They keep the pressure up all night. They're going to get after you. They're going to contest everything. They're going to be up in you. Nothing's easy."
Austin Peay (4-4) came into the game shooting 49.4 percent, but was held to 36.9 percent by the Razorbacks.
"I can't say enough about our defense," Anderson said. "We built a wall."
Anderson said the Razorbacks had 45 pass deflections.
"I feel like our defense tonight was awesome honestly," Barford said. "From the starting lineup to whoever played on the bench, it was just contagious.
"Our defense tonight was probably the best we played all year."
Anderson said the starting five of Barford, Kingsley, Daryl Macon, Manny Watkins and Dustin Thomas set a strong tone defensively and the bench took it to a higher level.
"It was like the blue-collar group and then another blue-collar group coming out there," Anderson said.
The Razorbacks had a 26-10 advantage in second-chance points thanks to outrebounding the Governors 47-31. Arkansas also had a 25-8 advantage in points off of turnovers.
"The big issue for us -- the thing I was most impressed with -- was Arkansas' defense and their rebounding," Loos said.
The Razorbacks shot 51.9 percent from the field -- including 63.9 percent in the second half (23 of 36) -- and had assists on 28 of their 40 baskets. They hit 9 of 23 three-pointers.
"In the second half I thought we established the inside," Anderson said. "It's amazing how when you start the inside game it opens up the outside game."
Anderson said his frustration at halftime stemmed from Arkansas failing to build on its lead by not taking advantage of its size inside, making ill-advised passes or taking quick shots.
"We don't do the things we've done all along to get the lead and so we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot," Anderson said. "In the second half, we just started doing the little things.
"As I told the guys, don't cheat the game and it won't cheat you. Just play it the right way. And I thought we played the game the right way."
Sports on 12/04/2016
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