Arkansas hampered by slow start


By Nate Allen

Special to the News-Times

FAYETTEVILLE - Though probably for his minutes he played both ends of the floor better than any of his teammates, Trey Thompson best described the Arkansas Razorbacks’ pitiful performance in Wednesday’s 75-54 SEC loss at Walton Arena to LSU.

“We just couldn't make shots,” the 6-9 senior reserve forward and Forrest City High grad from Madison said. “We didn't play any defense, either. So we helped them a lot. When you're not making shots, you've got to play defense to keep it close. We got in a hole and we couldn't dig ourselves out.”

That’s how Arkansas coach Mike Anderson saw it at the time and how he would see it on tape and even during what apparently passed for a very brief night’s slumber.

“Obviously coming off a long night,” Anderson said. “Didn’t get much sleep.”

Just what happened upon review of the game tape and what is awaiting for the Razorbacks, who host the Missouri Tigers Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2?

“I think it started off that we didn’t make shots early on,” Anderson said. “I thought we rushed shots. And when you don’t make shots and you are rushing them also, that puts a lot of pressure on your defense. We had stops early in the game, but since LSU started attacking us and getting easy opportunities, I thought our guys started pressing, and it seemed like it was an uphill battle.”

An Arkansas team known for its energy, particularly at home and with the 11,818 attending doing their best to revive the Razorbacks at whatever slim rallies they mustered before and after Arkansas trailed 41-21 at half, appeared mired in advanced energy crisis.

“I kept trying to get combinations out there to give us that energy level you’ve got to play with,” Anderson said. “Our energy level was not typical of how we play.”

After the disastrous first half at Auburn where the Razorbacks trailed 47-30, Anderson preached the one hand helps the other aspects of defense on one end and offensively attacking inside-out.

That sermon seemed to fall on deaf ears Wednesday night at Walton.

LSU freshman point guard Tremont Waters, who had eight assists versus two turnovers, penetrated Arkansas’ defense at will it seemed while Arkansas freshman big man Daniel Gafford seldom touched the ball against LSU’s defense closing on him inside while other Razorbacks impatiently fired up first-half threes, missing their first nine.

The last two meltdowns during this now three-game streak of SEC sorrow likely haunts those Arkansas fans remembering John Pelphrey’s 2008-2009 Razorbacks, who closed their non-conference campaign with huge wins at a packed Walton over fourth-ranked Oklahoma and seventh-ranked Texas and before laying an egg in the SEC, finishing at 2-14.

However, do recall that last season’s Razorbacks started 1-3 in the SEC and later would successively lose at Missouri, who went 2-16 in the league, and then at home to Vanderbilt.

Those 26-10 Hogs ultimately finished 12-6 in the SEC, reaching the finals of the SEC Tournament before going two rounds deep into the NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in a game the Razorbacks had the Tar Heels on the ropes until the final minutes.

No guarantees of a similar resurgence forthcoming, but Anderson does have six seniors who were a part of that revival.

“I think you can try and draw from those experiences,” Anderson said.

“I’m looking forward to our guys really improving upon the performance we had the other night. That was not a typical Razorback performance and we vow to make sure that people see the real Razorbacks play when we play Saturday.”

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