Reserves do the job for Hogs
AUBURN, Ala. — When Moses Kingsley, the SEC preseason player of the year, headed to the bench with less than three minutes gone in the first half at Auburn on Saturday night, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Coach Mike Anderson did not have to wonder if the Razorbacks might fall apart in the front court.
Anderson simply inserted junior Trey Thompson into the game at the 17:01 mark with Arkansas trailing the Tigers 8-3.
Thompson provided two defensive rebounds in the next couple of minutes, then added a steal that led to a Jaylen Barford layup to draw Arkansas within 10-9.
At that point, Arlando Cook subbed in to play power forward and scored eight of Arkansas’ next 10 points, sandwiching a three-pointer from Daryl Macon, who added a layup as the Razorbacks surged ahead 22-18.
Anderson has been talking up his bench for much of the season. The reserves once again played a key role in Arkansas’ 79-68 victory over Auburn, which
moved the Razorbacks to 22-7 and another step closer to the program’s second NCAA Tournament bid in three seasons.
“Like I’ve said, I’ve got probably nine or 10 starters,” Anderson said. “Now we’re seeing what I’m talking about with a guy like Trey.
“I mean, you put him out there and you had Arlando Cook out there who played some great minutes for us. That group actually got us going. They did a good job of sharing the basketball. They did a good job of fixing things on defense and rebounding and getting the loose balls. The 50-50 balls, we came up with quite a few of them.”
Arkansas’ reserves outscored Auburn’s 27-18. It marked the 14th time in 16 games the Razorbacks’ bench has scored more than its opponent’s bench.
During Arkansas’ five-game winning streak, its backups have outscored its counterparts 154-53, an average of more than 20 points per game.
Guards Jaylen Barford and Dusty Hannahs were Arkansas’ top scorers at Auburn, but they recognized the key roles the bench players had in the victory, which improved the Hogs’ SEC road record to 6-2.
“Those two guys are key guys, especially Trey,” Barford said. “He assists the ball well and rebounds well. Cook rebounds and runs the floor well and gives us toughness.”
Thompson’s passing has been on display to a greater degree recently. He had a career-high 6 assists against Ole Miss and added a team-high 3, to go along with a game-high 11 rebounds at Auburn.
“What they did was big time,” Hannahs said. “Arlando came in and played an awesome first half and a good second half too.
“Trey was outstanding. I think we’re starting to see what he’s capable of.”
Anderson emphasized that his best teams have been ones with multiple players who can stand out on a given night.
“To me, that’s the beauty of our basketball team,” he said. “It’s going to be different guys on different nights.”
“To me, that’s the beauty of our basketball team. It’s going to be different guys on different nights.” — Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson