Arkansas Ra­zor­backs hires new ath­letic direc­tor.

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE Af­ter re­ceiv­ing pats on the back for clob­ber­ing UConn be­fore their last game last Satur­day night, the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs en­ter Wal­ton Arena tonight off a kick in the pants.

The Ra­zor­backs (5-2) and the Colorado State Rams (4-4) tipoff at 7 p.m. on the Ra­zor­backs’ ra­dio net­work and SEC+ on the in­ter­net.

Coach Mike An­der­son’s Ra­zor­backs had played im­pres­sively, win­ning two of three against tra­di­tional pow­er­houses Ok­la­homa, North Carolina, their de­feat, and UConn, par­tic­u­larly the 102-67 rout over the Huskies dur­ing the Thanks­giv­ing week­end at the Phil Knight In­vi­ta­tional in Port­land.

How­ever, they got more than a come­up­pance last Satur­day night in Hous­ton when the Hous­ton Cougars em­bar­rassed them 91-65.

An­der­son dur­ing his Mon­day press con­fer­ence got down­right de­fen­sive about his Hogs’ per­for­mance in Hous­ton, not in their de­fense, but at­tack­ing their lack of de­fense and lack of un­der­stand­ing that what hap­pened on the neu­tral floor against the Con­necti­cut Huskies doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late against the Hous­ton Cougars in Hous­ton.

“Truth to be had, they are not as good as they think they are,” An­der­son said. “I thought we got a han­gover from the Con­necti­cut game. We started be­liev­ing the hype and the pat on the back com­ing back from it and we’re not un­der­stand­ing that when you play in a true road game against a Hous­ton team that’s phys­i­cal, they are go­ing to chal­lenge you de­fen­sively. They are go­ing to get af­ter you.”

Hous­ton hit Arkansas with a game-open­ing 11-0 run from which the Hogs never re­cov­ered.

“We didn’t get off to a good start and that’s not a good sign on the road,” An­der­son said. “So it’s hum­bling from the stand­point that you’ve got to play with that ur­gency right from the start no mat­ter where you play whether it be at home, on the road or neu­tral site.”

And par­tic­u­larly for his style that re­lies on a tempo-set­ting pres­sure de­fense, An­der­son says his teams must play de­fense, which they didn’t at Hous­ton.

“We’ve got to get more de­fense in­volved in our game,” An­der­son said. “We are try­ing to outscore peo­ple and I al­ways say we are go­ing to hang our hats on our de­fense. We’ve got to get de­fen­sive minded, so there might be some shake­ups in the lineup.”

An­der­son has ev­ery game so far started se­nior guards Jaylen Bar­ford, Daryl Ma­con and An­ton Beard and for­wards Trey Thomp­son, also a se­nior, and sopho­more Adrio Bai­ley.

Since he nor­mally con­sid­ers his ros­ter with nine starters given how am­ply he uses re­serves, An­der­son did not sound averse to in­sert­ing any of sev­eral re­serves into the lineup, in­clud­ing

6-10 cen­ter-for­ward Daniel Gaf­ford of El Do­rado, sopho­more guard C.J. Jones and se­nior for­ward Dustin Thomas, a starter much of last sea­son.

A shoot­ing guard, Jones has av­er­aged 14.0 points in his last three games and has im­proved de­fen­sively, An­der­son said.

“I think C.J. is re­ally get­ting more com­fort­able out on the floor,” An­der­son said. “I think de­fen­sively he’s do­ing some good things. He re­bounds now and he’s not get­ting as lost as he was last year. That’s just ex­pe­ri­ence, get­ting out there and play­ing.”

If Jones con­tin­ues at his sopho­more pace “his min­utes will con­tinue to go up,” An­der­son said.

Jones, 11 points and three re­bounds, and 6-8 for­ward Thomas, nine points, six re­bounds and a steal, were among the few Arkansas bright spots against Hous­ton.

“He (Thomas) was our lead­ing re­bounder in the game,” An­der­son said. “I thought he fought hard and played the right way.”

Se­nior for­ward Ar­lando Cook, who did not suit up on dis­ci­plinary sus­pen­sion for Arkansas’ first six games, dressed out but did not play in Hous­ton even with his sus­pen­sion lifted, could con­trib­ute tonight, An­der­son said.

“He’s ready,” An­der­son said. “There are some guys that fix things on de­fense.”

An­der­son did like that his Hogs re­sponded from their loss to North Carolina by an­ni­hi­lat­ing Con­necti­cut. And hav­ing their first home game tonight since Nov. 17 should help.

But the coach warns that the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence Rams of vet­eran former Iowa State and South­ern Miss coach Larry Eus­tachy are not to be taken lightly com­ing off Satur­day’s 72-63 win over pre­vi­ously un­de­feated in­state ri­val Colorado of the Pac 12.

“They beat a good Colorado team,” An­der­son said. “They played Florida State early in the year and played with them for about 35 min­utes. They were right there with them.”

Eus­tachy’s Rams seek a slower tempo than An­der­son prefers, but still have four av­er­ag­ing dou­ble-scor­ing fig­ures paced by the 15.9 of guard Nixon Pren­tiss.

Colorado State sopho­more re­serve for­ward Lorenzo “Doo­bie” Jenk­ins, was a schol­ar­ship Ra­zor­backs fresh­man in 2015-2016 serv­ing mainly as a prac­tice player, log­ging just one game played be­fore trans­fer­ring and red­shirt­ing in 2016-2017 at Colorado State.

Jenk­ins av­er­ages 13.4 min­utes, play­ing ev­ery Rams game this sea­son.

“I’m sure he’s go­ing to be a charged up guy ready to play,” An­der­son said. “He’s do­ing a good job for Larry Eus­tachy out there. He’s prob­a­bly got this one cir­cled on the cal­en­dar in terms of hav­ing a chance to come back and play at a place where he prac­ticed each and ev­ery day.”

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