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 twice.
Hogs force opponents to fumble
Image from Arkansas 72-60 win over Missouri Wednesday Jan. 23, 2019 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Georgia shot 66.7 percent from the field (32 of 48) in beating Texas 98-88 on Saturday, but the Bulldogs committed 26 turnovers.
Now Georgia will see how it handles the University of Arkansas' defense when the Bulldogs play the Razorbacks tonight in Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks' last two opponents -- Missouri and Texas Tech -- combined for 45 turnovers.
Arkansas forced Missouri into 24 turnovers in beating the Tigers 72-60 on Wednesday night, then forced 21 turnovers by Texas Tech in pushing the No. 16 Red Raiders to the limit on the road before losing 67-64.
The Razorbacks scored 27 points off Missouri's turnovers and 25 off Texas Tech's. They had 13 steals against the Tigers and 10 against the Red Raiders. Sophomore point guard Jalen Harris had three in each game to lead the team.
"We know defense turns to offense, so that's mainly what we've been focused on in practice," Harris said. "Getting a lot of stops, trying to get our hands on balls.
"The more deflections we get, we know it's a better chance for us getting a loose ball and making defense into easy offense."
Georgia has committed 18 or more turnovers in six games.
"We want to attack the press," Bulldogs Coach Tom Crean said during his news conference after the Texas game. "There were times [Saturday] that we did, there were times we got a little tentative with the trap.
"We went to some places we never want to go. You don't want to go to the corner, right? You do not want to go to the corner because the corner has got four defenders. It's got the baseline, it's got the sideline and it's got the two that are trapping. It's hard to beat anybody 4 on 1, and we had a couple of those situations.
"So we've got to keep getting better with that, get the ball to the middle, get it reversed."
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said the Razorbacks are doing a better job of communicating and connecting on defense.
"The guys are starting to get it," Anderson said. "When you're playing the style of basketball we're playing, it just don't happen overnight. It takes time, but once you get it, it's a thing of beauty."
According to KenPom.com -- a website with advanced analytics for college basketball -- Georgia has lost the ball on 23 percent of its possessions to lead the nation.
"We're not strong enough with the ball," Crean said. "We try to make passes in too tight a windows, right? And we can't -- we're not Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning. We've got to make the simple play."
Arkansas point guard Jalen Harris said that coming out of a timeout with 25.7 seconds left at Texas Tech and the Razorbacks trailing 65-62, he wanted to get the ball inside to Daniel Gafford.
"He was open, I just couldn't get it to him when I saw it," Harris said. "So I tried to get it to the best shooter on the court's hands in Isaiah Joe. But he couldn't get a clean shot off, so ..."
Why didn't Harris pass to Gafford if he was open?
"The help side, the guy guarding Keyshawn [Embery-Simpson], I felt like if I would have threw it, he would have stole it," Harris said. "If I would have gotten it inside to Dan, it would have extended the game, see if they could make free throws."
Coach Mike Anderson told the Razorbacks during the timeout to get the ball to Gafford.
"We wanted to get a quick score, and we had Dan open on the post," Anderson said. "We just missed him. Then the execution didn't take place. I think it went into Isaiah's hands, and then Keyshawn kind of bobbled it."
After an official ruled Embery-Simpson kicked the ball, Texas Tech got possession and the Razorbacks had to foul. Harris fouled Davide Moretti, who hit two free throws to give the Red Raiders a 67-62 lead and clinch the victory.
It turns out Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford was 7 of 7 from the field and scored 16 points against Texas Tech, according to a corrected box score, not 6 of 6 with 14 points.
Razorbacks' freshman guard Desi Sills wears No. 0 and Gafford wears No. 10, and an error was made in crediting Sills with one of Gafford's baskets.
The correction makes Gafford 121 of 183 from the field this season and increases his SEC-leading field goal shooting to 66.1 percent. That mark ranks sixth nationally.
Gafford now has three games for the Razorbacks in which he's attempted at least seven shots without a miss. He was 8 of 8 against Minnesota last season, and 8 of 8 against Montana State earlier this season.
Joe was ill
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said freshman guard Isaiah Joe was battling a cold when he shot 1 of 6 from the field at Texas Tech, including 0 of 5 on three-pointers. Joe leads the SEC with 68 three-point baskets.
"He has that bug going around, and he was playing all on heart out there," Anderson said. "I thought defensively he gave us everything he had, but he was coming out of the game quite a bit off and on."
Joe played 29 minutes against the Red Raiders and had five points and two steals.
"I'm going to have to kind of watch him in practice and see what he can and can't do," Anderson said before the Razorbacks worked out Monday. "This time of year, you want energy for the games."
Hot and hotter
Texas Tech hit 10 of 19 three-pointers against Arkansas, but Georgia topped that by hitting 12 of 17 against Texas.
"We've got to lock in on the shooters," Razorbacks guard Jalen Harris said. "Know who's shooting the ball well, know who isn't."
ARKANSAS (11-8, 2-4 SEC)
DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT
Nov. 9 Texas# L, 73-71 (OT)
Nov. 12 UC Davis^ W, 81-58
Nov. 18 Indiana^ W, 73-72
Nov. 21 Montana State^ W, 90-68
Nov. 23 Texas-Arlington^ W, 78-60
Dec. 1 Fla. International W, 121-89
Dec. 5 at Colorado State W, 98-74
Dec. 8 W. Kentucky L, 78-77
Dec. 15 Texas-San Antonio+ W, 79-67
Dec. 19 Georgia Tech L, 69-65
Dec. 22 Texas State W, 73-70
Dec. 28 Austin Peay W, 76-65
Jan. 5 at Texas A&M* W, 73-71
Jan. 9 Florida* L, 57-51
Jan. 12 LSU* L, 94-88 (OT)
Jan. 15 at Tennessee L, 106-87
Jan. 19 at Mississippi* L, 84-67
Jan. 23 Missouri* W, 72-60
Jan. 26 at Texas Tech L, 67-64
Tonight Georgia* 6 p.m.
Feb. 2 at LSU* 5 p.m.
Feb. 5 Vanderbilt* 8 p.m.
Feb. 9 at South Carolina* 2:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Missouri* 8 p.m.
Feb. 16 Mississippi State* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 at Auburn* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 Texas A&M* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 26 at Kentucky* 8 p.m.
Mar. 2 Mississippi* noon
Mar. 6 at Vanderbilt* 7:30 p.m.
Mar. 9 Alabama* 5 p.m.
Mar. 13-17 at SEC Tourn., Nashville, Tenn.
#at Armed Forces Classic, El Paso, Texas
^Hardwood Showcase game
+at Verizon Arena, North Little Rock
Sports on 01/29/2019
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