An­der­son ran­kled by Hogs’ de­fense

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS INSIDE - BOB HOLT

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.”


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