Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Tech puts Chaney in doghouse
Arkansas forward Reggie Chaney is shown prior to a game against Montana on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Fayetteville. Chaney, a sophomore, missed the first three games this season while serving a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Since serving a three-game suspension to begin the season for an unspecified violation of team rules, Arkansas sophomore Reggie Chaney has often been the forward to spell senior Adrio Bailey.
His role moving forward, however, is a bit uncertain entering today's game at Ole Miss.
Chaney, who has played 14 minutes in Arkansas' past two games against Texas A&M and LSU, has scored 2 points, handed out 1 assist, turned the ball over 3 times and committed 6 fouls. He has not grabbed an offensive or defensive rebound.
Against the Tigers, he was whistled for four fouls, including a technical foul, in seven minutes. He was assessed the technical late in the first half for slapping the basketball into the crowd after committing a foul on LSU forward Darius Days under the rim.
"I mean, you can't punch a basketball," Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman said. "You can't do it. A player punched a basketball and he had four fouls in five minutes. I wish I could, you know ... how does a man walk on the moon? I don't know. But somebody did. And somebody punched a basketball. I don't know how, but he did it."
Graduate transfer forward Jeantal Cylla, who has one start, is an option behind Bailey, as is 6-8 Ethan Henderson. Cylla, 6-7, has been used sparingly since Arkansas' victory over South Dakota on Nov. 22. He has not played in two of the past three games and has not played more than four minutes in a game since the beginning of December.
Musselman said the UNC-Wilmington transfer has patiently waited his turn on the bench.
Asked how Chaney personally responded in practice Thursday, Musselman said he isn't worried about one player.
"I'm trying to figure out who's going to play behind Adrio," he added. "That's what I'm trying to figure out. Who's going to produce and provide us something? That's what I'm trying to find."
Junior Mason Jones is averaging 24.6 points per game in Arkansas' past five games, which started with a 41-point explosion in the Razorbacks' 98-79 victory over Tulsa on Dec. 14.
Jones, the SEC's second-leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, has been in double figures in all but two games: 6 points on 2-of-4 shooting against Texas Southern and 8 points on 1-of-9 shooting at Western Kentucky.
He is shooting 44% from three-point range, making 19 of 43 tries, during the past five games.
Guard Jimmy Whitt had a big game against LSU, making 9 of 13 shots, most of them from between 13 and 16 feet from the basket, which has been his calling card.
"He's unbelievable," LSU Coach Will Wade said Wednesday. "He does that every game. I know our fans are probably going, 'Oh my gosh, [No.] 33 hit all these crazy shots,' but he hits those every game from 15 feet on in. He doesn't even take a three.
"He hasn't taken a three all year. Give him credit. He made his free throws tonight, too. He's about a 60% free-throw shooter coming in and he made his free throws tonight."
The Razorbacks had their best free-throw shooting game of the season against LSU on Wednesday, making 17 of 18 (94.4%).
The top shooters were Mason Jones (6 of 6), Jimmy Whitt (4 of 4) and Desi Sills (3 of 3). Adrio Bailey made his only free throw attempt, and Isaiah Joe went 3 for 4 to record the only miss.
Arkansas leads the SEC with 84.8% free-throw shooting (28 of 33) in conference games. The Hogs are second in the SEC in all games at 75.7% behind Kentucky's 78.2%, and 40th in the nation.
A reporter asked Eric Musselman on Thursday what LSU did to hold Isaiah Joe to no points in the first half on 0-of-2 shooting in 11 minutes.
"Foul trouble," Musselman said. "He just picked up two fouls. I did a good job guarding him by sticking him on the bench.
"I don't think it was anything in particular other than the fact that Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart are two guards that put fouls on people on a nightly basis. So he was guarding two really good players and picked up two fouls and, as we do every game for the most part, we let those guys sit with two. I'm glad we did because we certainly needed him in the second half."
Joe finished with 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting and did not commit a foul in the second half.
Junior Jalen Harris has settled into his role as the first guard off Arkansas' bench.
Since a scoreless outing at Indiana on Dec. 29, Harris has turned in solid back-to-back efforts as a distributor against Texas A&M and LSU. In conference play, the Wilson, N.C., native has recorded seven assists against zero turnovers.
Harris finished with six points and five assists in the victory over the Aggies. It was his first game with five-plus assists without a turnover since Arkansas' 72-60 home victory over Missouri on Jan. 23, 2019.
"Jalen's been incredible. He's had a great attitude," Coach Eric Musselman said. "He's a spark plug off the bench. He provides energy. The great thing is, when you bring someone off the bench, you want him to have a characteristic that changes the look of your team, and he does that. Like, he speeds the game up when he comes in.
"He speeds the game up defensively and he speeds the game up for us offensively. He gives us something off the bench to change the complexion of the game."
Harris has been a positive on the defensive end also, coming up with two steals in each league game. He has at least one steal in six consecutive games.
Arkansas sealed its first victory in SEC play against Texas A&M with a lineup featuring five guards -- Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Harris, Jimmy Whitt and Desi Sills -- and Eric Musselman turned to it again in the second half at LSU with mixed results.
The group has played together in four games this season -- Western Kentucky, Tulsa, Texas A&M, LSU -- and outscored opponents 37-24.
Defensively, the lineup has come up with eight steals, including four against the Tigers in a span of 3:10 in the second half. It was also Arkansas' best rebounding lineup in the conference opener, pulling down 11 over 14:48.
The five-guard crew outscored the Aggies and Tigers 32-20 in 17:58 of game time.
Coach Eric Musselman said there was an element of toughness to LSU's 53-24 rebounding advantage over Arkansas on Wednesday, but also something else.
"It was also reaction," he said. "I mean, they've got some guys up front that they just react to loose balls. If we would have put a ball 15 feet and told guys to stand behind the line to see who could go get the ball first, they probably would have won 100 out of 100 times getting to loose balls.
"We were just a step slow getting to ball. Then they have range rebounders, so they have guys that can rebound out of their area, three of them, one in particular. I'm sure every team is going to say go to the glass against Arkansas."
ESPN analyst and former Arkansas women's coach Jimmy Dykes was very complimentary of Eric Musselman after watching the Razorbacks' shoot-around and their performance Wednesday.
Including his positive commentary during the ESPNU broadcast of LSU's 79-77 win, Dykes took to his Twitter account to throw laurels Thursday morning.
"Again. So impressed with the fight and will of @RazorbackMBB last night. Everything I saw in Baton Rouge from @EricPMusselman was at elite level. Hogs are a real problem for folks going forward," Dykes posted on his account.
Sports on 01/11/2020
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