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.
Razorbacks do home work on Saturdays; UA to face LSU at Walton Arena
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson (left) walks off the floor with guard Jalen Harris (right) following a 57-51 loss to Florida on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- SEC Saturday basketball games at Walton Arena have been good for the University of Arkansas since Mike Anderson became head coach before the 2011-2012 season.
The Razorbacks are 25-5 in SEC Saturday home games in Anderson's first seven seasons and have won nine in a row.
Arkansas (10-4, 1-1 SEC) will try to extend that winning streak when the Razorbacks play LSU (11-3, 1-0) at 5 p.m. today at Walton Arena.
"I don't even worry about streaks," Anderson said. "I worry about winning games. That's all. Having our team prepared the best that we can."
The Razorbacks lost their SEC home opener to Florida 57-51 on Wednesday night. It was Arkansas' lowest-scoring home game under Anderson.
"They'll be ready," LSU Coach Will Wade said. "The question is whether we'll be ready, but they'll be ready.
"It's one of the top atmospheres in the league. They get to making threes and they start calling the Hogs, they get going in there. They don't build on-campus arenas as big as Bud Walton anymore. When it was built in the '90s, they built so big. Those weekend games are tough up there."
The Tigers, who opened SEC play with a home victory over Alabama 88-79 on Tuesday night, lost 82-76 at Houston on Dec. 9 in their only road game this season.
"It's the first time we've gone on the road with this group in SEC play," Wade said. "It's an opportunity.
"We're going to have to be a lot more connected than our last away game. We're going to have to play with a lot more attention to detail with an understanding that everything matters when you play on the road in that type of environment.
"We have to compete for a full 40 minutes. Not 30 minutes, 35 minutes. It's got to be a full 40 minutes."
Arkansas put together seven good minutes against Florida in cutting a 48-32 deficit to 53-51, but the Razorbacks missed two shots with a chance to tie the score, and the Gators put the game away when KeVaughn Allen -- a senior guard from North Little Rock -- hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final 12 seconds.
"It's one of those scenarios where guys are learning how to not only win games, but to finish games off the right way," Anderson said. "But we don't want to be in holes like we were down 16. We don't want to be in that department, especially here. No matter where we play, we don't want to be in that position.
"I just think the sense of urgency from the beginning of the game throughout the whole game, that's got to be our mindset."
LSU 5-11 sophomore point guard Tremont Waters helped the Tigers control the tempo when they beat Arkansas 75-54 in Fayetteville and 94-86 in Baton Rouge last season to sweep a home-and-home series against the Razorbacks for the first time since 2009.
Waters had 8 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds in 36 minutes in the first game, and 27 points, 11 assists and 2 rebounds in 36 minutes in the rematch.
"He's a pretty heady player," Anderson said. "I think he's like a coach out on the floor.
"He has a great grasp of it at a young age, even his freshman year. Obviously, you know he's going to be better because now he's surrounded by even better players."
LSU starts two freshmen -- 6-10 Naz Reid and 6-11 Kavell Bigby-Williams -- who will go against Arkansas 6-11 sophomore Daniel Gafford inside.
"We've played big teams before," Anderson said. "We have to make the game a 94-by-50 game. It's got to get up and down the floor. I think that favors us. If we just play it in the half court where we're pounding it, then I think that favors them."
Sophomore guard Mason Jones led Arkansas with a career-high 30 points against Florida.
"Coach is going to get us back right," Jones said of responding to the Florida loss. "So we've just got to keep getting ready for LSU coming in.
"I know every game is a quick turnaround, so you can't harp on a loss. You have to just keep building from it."
Waters and junior guard Skylar Mays are the only current Tigers who played against Arkansas last season, and Gafford and junior forward Adrio Bailey are the only current Razorbacks who played against LSU.
"They have a totally different team," Wade said. "We have a totally different team. Alabama beat us twice last year and that didn't have anything to do with Tuesday night. There's very little carry over."
Bigby-Williams had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocked shots in 24 minutes against Alabama.
"Obviously, he played very well against Alabama," Wade said. "We need him to play well against Arkansas in a tough matchup with Gafford.
"We need him to come through and play well back-to-back. He needs to continue to prepare well, focus on the little things, focus on the details, watch film, do the extra preparation that he's been doing that's given him the opportunity to have the success that he's had."
Gafford, averaging 16.4 points, was held to a season-low nine points against Florida. He hit 3 of 4 shots from the field and 3 of 6 free throws.
"Daniel's got to do a better job of presenting himself, and not just necessarily posting up," Anderson said. "He's a guy that can come out on the floor and do a variety of things, flash post.
"We can do a lot of different things to get him involved. But we've got to hit him on time. I think there are times he's open and we're not doing a good job of getting the ball to him.
"So that's going to be one of our focuses, is to make sure we go inside-out."
Arkansas men vs LSU
WHEN 5 p.m.
WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville
RECORDS Arkansas 10-4, 1-1 SEC; LSU 11-3, 1-0
SERIES Arkansas leads 35-30.
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
TELEVISION SEC Network
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
POS. NAME, HT., YR.;PPG;RPG
G Tremont Waters, 5-11;So.;12.9;2.6
G Skylar Mays, 6-4;Jr.;13.1;3.3
G Marlon Taylor, 6-5;Jr.;5.9;2.8
F Naz Reid, 6-10;Fr.;12.2;5.4
C Kavell Bigby-Williams, 6-11;Fr.;7.3;5.1
COACH Will Wade (29-18 in two seasons at LSU, 120-63 in six seasons overall)
POS. NAME, HT., YR.;PPG;RPG
G Jalen Harris, 6-2;So.;8.9;2.7
G Isaiah Joe, 6-5,;Fr.;14.8;2.4
G Mason Jones, 6-5;So.;14.3;4.9
F Daniel Gafford, 6-11;So.;16.4;9.6
F Adrio Bailey, 6-6;Jr.;6.6;3.9
COACH Mike Anderson (161-90 in eight seasons at Arkansas, 361-188 in 17 seasons overall)
CHALK TALK Arkansas is 19-7 against LSU in games played in Fayetteville. ... Razorbacks sophomore point guard Jalen Harris has 92 assists and 17 turnovers. His 5.41 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks fourth nationally. His 6.6 assists per game is second in the SEC. ... Arkansas is 7-3 in Walton Arena this season. The Razorbacks' most home losses in Mike Anderson's eight seasons as coach has been four during the 2015-16 season. ... The Razorbacks' four losses are by a combined 13 points.
Sports on 01/12/2019
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