Thompson fills up stat sheet with wide array of numbers
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.”