Re­serves do the job for Hogs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - TOM MUR­PHY

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

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