Ra­zor­backs look to bounce back

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BOB HOLT

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Univer­sity of Arkansas bas­ket­ball team is getting ready for its third Satur­day-to-Tues­day night turn­around in SEC play this sea­son, but with a twist.

For the first time, the Ra­zor­backs are play­ing both games on the road.

Arkansas (14-9, 5-5) plays at Mis­souri (11-11, 2-8) at 8 p.m. Tues­day af­ter los­ing at South Carolina 77-65 on Satur­day.

The pre­vi­ous two times the Ra­zor­backs played on Satur­day and Tues­day, they had a road game fol­lowed by a home game.

Arkansas lost at home to

LSU and at Ten­nessee in its first Satur­day-to-Tues­day games, then won at LSU and at home against Ge­or­gia.

“I think ev­ery game you play on the road is go­ing to be a chal­lenge in our league,” Ra­zor­backs Coach Mike An­der­son said af­ter Satur­day’s game. “Our league is re­ally, re­ally good. Con­trary to what

ev­ery­body thinks, it’s a re­ally good league no mat­ter where you play.

“So it cer­tainly is a chal­lenge, but it’s the next game on our sched­ule. We’ve got to get this one out of our sys­tem, and learn from it, and get ready for a Mis­souri team that we played ear­lier in the year.”

Arkansas beat Mis­souri 72-60 in Wal­ton Arena in Fayet­teville on Jan. 23 when the Tigers couldn’t hold onto a 13-point af­ter jump­ing ahead 17-4.

The Ra­zor­backs know how the Tigers felt that night. Arkansas couldn’t hold a 13-point lead at South Carolina af­ter go­ing ahead 50-37.

South Carolina outscored Arkansas 40-15 the fi­nal 15:07.

“We were all down be­cause we know we should have won,” Ra­zor­backs sopho­more guard Ma­son Jones said. “But we’re go­ing to get through it.

“It’s go­ing to be tough, but like Coach said, he’s go­ing to get us ready for Mis­souri. We’ll re­cover when we get back and be ready for the next game.

“We’ve just got to keep at it. Keep push­ing, keep fight­ing. We’re go­ing to get there.”

Where the Ra­zor­backs find them­selves af­ter los­ing at South Carolina is tied for

sev­enth in the SEC stand­ings with Alabama.

“It’s got to hurt un­til mid­night, and then we’ve got to have short-term mem­ory,” An­der­son said of bounc­ing back from the South Carolina game. “We’ve got to get ready, be­cause Mis­souri will be ready to play. And we’ll be ready to play as well.”

South Carolina had 21 turnovers against Arkansas, but

shot 54.2 per­cent from the field (26 of 48) and hit 10 of 15 three-point­ers.

In the sec­ond half, when the Game­cocks had just six turnovers, they shot 60.7 per­cent (17 of 28). They made 7 of 12 free throws in the sec­ond half af­ter go­ing 8 of 14 in the first half.

“When you turn the ball over, it de­flates you,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. “When you miss free throws, it de­flates you.

“In the sec­ond half we stopped turn­ing it over, which al­lowed us to get shots and not give them open-court shots. They’re hard to de­fend if you put them in the open court.”

Martin said the Game­cocks had bet­ter spac­ing on of­fense in the sec­ond half to cre­ate bet­ter pass­ing lanes so Arkansas couldn’t force as many turnovers.

The Ra­zor­backs’ up­tempo style of play, Martin said, also helped South Carolina be able to come back.

“If you’re down 13 to Vir­ginia, be­cause of how they play, that’s re­ally hard,” said Martin, whose team lost 6952 ear­lier this sea­son to the Cava­liers. “But the way [the Ra­zor­backs] play, I’m not say­ing it’s easy … We just had to score.”

Fresh­man guard A.J. Law­son led South Carolina with 24 points and fresh­man for­ward Keyshawn Bryant scored 17.

“Ob­vi­ously, we made some threes and some de­fen­sive ad­just­ments got us into the open court,” Martin said. “Which al­lowed A.J. and Keyshawn to play with their ath­leti­cism.”

An­der­son said the Ra­zor­backs, who got 17 points from sopho­more guard Jalen Har­ris and 15 from Jones, weren’t as quick to the ball in the sec­ond half as they were in the first half and that South Carolina was more ac­tive.

“A lot of times when you make shots, it gives you a lot more en­ergy,” he said. “This time of the year it’s about the en­ergy, man.

“Who brings the en­ergy, and they had enough in the tank to fin­ish it out in those last few min­utes.”

The Game­cocks went on a 22-4 run to take a 59-54 lead, but Arkansas re­sponded by go­ing ahead 61-59 on a tip-in bas­ket by sopho­more for­ward Daniel Gafford, who scored a sea­son-low eight points in 22 foul-plagued min­utes.

South Carolina then took con­trol of the game and fin­ished on a 14-2 run.

“We thought we were go­ing to ab­sorb that punch,” Jones said of re­gain­ing the lead. “But then they got on an­other run.

“South Carolina’s a good team. Give credit to them. When they took the mo­men­tum, the crowd got be­hind them and they just ran with it.”

Spurs and Feath­ers/ALLEN SHARPE

Arkansas sopho­more guard Ma­son Jones (13), who had 15 points in Satur­day’s 77-65 loss to South Carolina, said the Ra­zor­backs “just got to keep at it. Keep push­ing, keep fight­ing. We’re go­ing to get there.”

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