Thomp­son fills up stat sheet with wide ar­ray of num­bers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BOB HOLT

Arkansas for­ward

Trey Thomp­son is av­er­ag­ing 5.5 points, 6.3 re­bounds and 3.8 as­sists per game over the team’s past four SEC out­ings, all of which re­sulted in vic­to­ries.

FAYET­TEVILLE — In Trey Thomp­son’s last three games, the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs’ for­ward has set ca­reer-highs for re­bounds (11), as­sists (6), blocked shots (3) and steals (3) while play­ing off the bench.

“It tells you the im­pact he’s hav­ing on the game with­out even scor­ing,” Ra­zor­backs Coach Mike An­der­son said. “He’s hav­ing his im­print all over the game.

“He’s un­der­stand­ing his role so much bet­ter. So the

bet­ter he plays, the bet­ter our team plays.”

In the Univer­sity of Arkansas at Fayet­teville’s 98-80 vic­tory over Ole Miss on Feb. 18, Thomp­son had 8 points, 8 re­bounds, 3 blocked shots, 3 steals and 3 as­sists. He had 6 as­sists, 5 points, 3 re­bounds and

1 steal when the Ra­zor­backs beat Texas A&M 86-77 and 11 re­bounds, 6 points, 3 as­sists, 1 blocked shot and 1 steal in their 79-68 vic­tory at Auburn.

“Trey’s made a huge dif­fer­ence for us,” Arkansas se­nior cen­ter Moses Kings­ley said. “It’s not about the num­bers with him.

“He un­der­stands the game way bet­ter than some of us on the team. He helps us read things.”

Thomp­son, a ju­nior from Madi­son who played at For­rest City High School, is av­er­ag­ing 2.6 points, 3.2 re­bounds and 1.6 as­sists in 13.4 min­utes in 29 games. His scor­ing av­er­age is 10th on the team, but Kings­ley said those who fo­cus on that stat miss the point about Thomp­son’s im­pact on the of­fense.

Kings­ley said Thomp­son helps space the floor, sets screens that free up the team’s top scor­ers — guards Dusty Han­nahs, Daryl Macon and Jaylen Bar­ford — and is an ac­cu­rate passer, es­pe­cially when it comes to find­ing team­mates on back­door cuts to the bas­ket.

“The way Trey sees the floor with his height he ac­tu­ally calls him­self a point for­ward,” Bar­ford said. “He’s a great passer.”

Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said Thomp­son was a matchup prob­lem for the Rebels be­cause of his ball-han­dling and pass­ing skills for a big man.

“When Trey is play­ing as well as he did with his phys­i­cal pres­ence at the bas­ket, it gives Arkansas an­other weapon,” Kennedy said. “He’s big, but he’s nim­ble.”

Thomp­son leads Arkansas (22-7, 11-5) with 34 as­sists in SEC play and has nine turnovers.

“We’re a mo­tion of­fense and guys are mov­ing,” Thomp­son said. “Teams over­play our

guards be­cause they shoot the ball re­ally well, so the back­door is go­ing to be avail­able.

“When it’s open, I just try to get the ball to them where they need it.”

An­der­son said the Ra­zor­backs move es­pe­cially well when Thomp­son is in the game.

“That tells me guys are look­ing for the ball, be­cause they know Trey’s a tremen­dous passer,” An­der­son said.

Thomp­son is sec­ond on the team in blocked shots (23) and tied for sixth in steals (19).

“He also gets a lot of de­flec­tions,” An­der­son said. “That leads to more steals for us.”

Macon scored 30 against Ole Miss and lav­ished praise on Thomp­son.

“Trey came to play,” Macon said. “When he’s re­bound­ing, block­ing shots, find­ing peo­ple and dunk­ing. … That Trey is the one you should be scared of when you’re the op­po­site team. That Trey is go­ing to bring it.”

Thomp­son has con­tin­ued to bring it for the Ra­zor­backs.

“The con­sis­tency is what I’m lov­ing,” An­der­son said. “That speaks vol­umes about big Trey.”

Thomp­son played a ca­reer-high 29 min­utes at Auburn. That’s four fewer min­utes than the 33 he played his en­tire fresh­man sea­son.

“Trey has come miles and miles since then,” An­der­son said. “Early in his ca­reer, you could hardly leave him on the floor be­cause he’d get in foul trou­ble. His in­stincts were like a half step off.

“Now we’re start­ing to see the basketball IQ he has.”

Thomp­son leads Arkansas with a 64.4 shoot­ing per­cent­age (29 of 45), but ranks ninth in shot at­tempts.

“He has the free­dom to shoot,” An­der­son said. “I don’t think he’s afraid to shoot. Maybe he wants to get the great shoot­ers the shot, but he’ll shoot it in time.

“That’s not im­por­tant to him. Win­ning is im­por­tant to him.”

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/BEN GOFF

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