Anderson rankled by Hogs’ defense
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas guard Daryl Macon was held to eight points against Mississippi
State, less than half his scoring average (17.3) in SEC play going into the game.
That prompted a question to Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson about whether Macon
— who hit 3 of 7 shots and his only free throw — needed to be
more aggressive on offense.
“I want him to play some defense,” Anderson said. “I want him to get better defensively.”
Improving defensively likely has been Anderson’s message to all of his players after
Mississippi State’s 84-78 victory over Arkansas on Tuesday night in Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks ( 12- 4, 1-3 SEC) have allowed more than 80 points in their three SEC losses, including 81-72 to Florida at home and 97-71 at Kentucky.
Arkansas won 82-78 at Tennessee for its lone SEC victory.
In SEC play only, the Razorbacks rank 13th among 14 teams in scoring defense (85.0 points) and 11th in field goal defense (45.5 percent).
“Without a doubt we’ve got to stop people,” Anderson said. “That’s something we’ve been working on in practice each and every day. Our players have got to carry that out when we play games.”
Mississippi State knocked down 12-of-26 three-pointers, including 6 of 7 by 6-4 sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon came into Tuesday’s game shooting 41.1 percent on three-point attempts (23 of 56). He shot 85.7 percent against the Razorbacks.
“I think that had something to do with us, too,” Anderson said. “He made a couple with people in his face, but he was running off screens and we just weren’t doing a good job.
“Our defense is geared to
making him a driver. That’s what we wanted to do, make him a driver.”
The Razorbacks failed to execute that strategy as Weatherspoon consistently found open looks on the perimeter.
Mississippi State freshman guard Lamar Peters hit 4 of 10 three-pointers, sophomore forward Aric Holman was 1 of 2 and freshman guard Tyson Carter 1 of 3.
The Bulldogs came into Walton Arena off a 95-78 victory at LSU in which they hit 11 of 22 three-pointers, and Anderson said before the game that guarding them on the perimeter would be a key for his defense.
“Very, very disappointed in our effort,” Anderson said.
Th e Bu l l d o g s ’ 12 three-pointers matched the most the Razorbacks have allowed this season. Texas-Arlington hit 12 of 29 and North Florida 12 of 30.
Mississippi State showed patience on offense and took advantage of defensive breakdowns when the Razorbacks were slow to make switches or rotate.
“I thought defensively … it just didn’t seem like we were linked up,” Anderson said. “They would find that one weak link, and when they did, they exploited us.”
Mississippi State guards Mario Kegler (five assists) and I.J. Ready ( four) did a good job of penetrating and passing outside to find teammates for open shots. Peters also finished with two assists in the game.
“We’re a good passing team,” Bulldogs Coach Ben Howland said. “We’re a good shooting team.”
Mississippi State ( 11- 4, 2-1) is third in SEC games in shooting at 45.8 percent (77 of 168), including 39.9 percent on three- pointers ( 27 of 68).
The Razorbacks play Missouri (5-10, 0-3) on Saturday in Walton Arena. The Tigers rank last in SEC play in shooting at 36.5 percent (74 of 203) and three-pointers at 22.2 percent (18 of 81), so Arkansas figures to have a better defensive showing.
“We’ve just got to figure out what works with this team,” Anderson said. “The thing I see is we don’t make the subtle adjustments in games.
“Most of my teams, guys on the floor would make that subtle adjustment. So now they’ve got to make the subtle adjustments in terms of if a guy is beating them off the dribble, then you know we have to back off and keep the guy in front of us.”