Hogs not look­ing ahead

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - Ra­zor­back Re­port By Nate Allen

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Tra­di­tion­ally the Ken­tucky Wild­cats are the one SEC team that can beat you three times even if you play them just once. Dis­tracted teams have been known to lose their game ahead of Ken­tucky in part be­cause they look ahead to Ken­tucky. Then they lose to Ken­tucky and lose the next one off a Ken­tucky han­gover. Or, the eu­pho­ria of beat­ing Ken­tucky of­ten drains the adrenaline for the next game. Arkansas Coach Eric Mus­sel­man no doubt would like to be cross­ing that post eu­pho­ria bridge af­ter his Ra­zor­backs host Ken­tucky in Satur­day’s 3 p.m. ESPN tele­vised game at Wal­ton Arena.

But for now, Mus­sel­man says he and his 13-2, 2-1 in the SEC Ra­zor­backs fo­cus only on the Van­der­bilt Com­modores, 8-7, 0-2 com­ing to Wal­ton for Wed­nes­day’s 7:30 p.m. SEC Net­work tele­vised SEC game.

Given the Com­modores record and los­ing SEC lead­ing scorer Aaron Nesmith and his 23.0 scor­ing av­er­age to a sea­son-end­ing stress frac­tured foot, Mus­sel­man was asked Mon­day if he’s con­cerned his Hogs could peek ahead to Satur­day’s Ken­tucky clash.

“It’s a con­cern just be­cause it was brought up,” Mus­sel­man said. “I mean we’ve got things to worry

about and it’s how do we get ready for Wed­nes­day’s game. That’s it. It’s the most im­por­tant game on our sched­ule. They played Auburn great the other night on the road. We have to get ready to fig­ure out how to play Vandy. It’s plain and sim­ple.”

One ob­vi­ous Arkansas con­cern is find­ing depth be­hind its tallest starter, Adrio Bai­ley, the 6-6 se­nior for­ward play­ing cen­ter.

Play­ing five guards, in­sert­ing Jalen Har­ris among starters Jimmy

Whitt, Ma­son Jones, Isa­iah Joe and Desi Sills with

Jones and Whitt most cast as sort of cen­ters, of­ten has been Mus­sel­man’s an­swer be­cause 6-8 sopho­more Reg­gie Chaney and 6-7 grad­u­ate trans­fer Jean­tal Cylla have been in­con­sis­tent.

How­ever Cylla did grab five re­bounds in 11 offthe-bench min­utes of last Satur­day’s 76-72 SEC suc­cess at Ole Miss in Ox­ford, Mis­sis­sippi.

Does Satur­day’s per­for­mance bode for more time for the grad trans­fer ad­just­ing to step­ping up a di­vi­sion hav­ing pre­vi­ously played for the Uni­ver­sity of North Carolina-wilm­ing­ton?

“I don’t know if we’ll see him more or less, or at all or a lot,” Mus­sel­man said Mon­day. “He re­bounded the ball, he had five re­bounds in 11 min­utes. I think he was one of our lead­ers and he only played 11 min­utes so I loved JC’S ac­tiv­ity for sure. Re­bound­ing the ball, that’s ob­vi­ously an area of de­fi­ciency for us.”

Then again …

“Hav­ing said that he was 1 for 4 from the foul line,” Mus­sel­man said. “I think that’s a con­fi­dence thing and a rust thing. Put that on me be­cause I haven’t played him a lot.”

Cylla, Chaney and

6-8 sopho­more Ethan Hen­der­son, three blocked shots and three re­bounds in seven min­utes back on Dec. 3 against Austin Peay, have all had their mo­ments.

Lately though, Har­ris for Bai­ley has of­ten been the sub­sti­tu­tion pat­tern, par­tic­u­larly

late game if Bai­ley is foul-trou­bled.

“We’ve proven through the course of three league games that there might be nights that we play five guards,” Mus­sel­man said. “Ev­ery game we play this year there will prob­a­bly be a stretch where there are five guards out there. We just wing it and see how it goes, and then if it doesn’t go good, we’ll get them out as quick as pos­si­ble. And if it goes well and there are some matchups that we can take ad­van­tage of, then we’ll leave them out there a lit­tle longer.”

WOMEN’S MID­WEEK REST

Off their 90-73 SEC vic­tory over Mis­souri Sun­day at Wal­ton, Coach Mike Neigh­bors’ Ra­zor­backs women, 14-3, 2-2 in the SEC, get one of their two in-sea­son mid­week byes.

The Lady ‘Backs don’t play again un­til Sun­day’s SEC game at Van­der­bilt in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

No mid­week game pro­vides a lit­tle more heal­ing time for hard-luck se­nior cen­ter Kiara Wil­liams. A three-year Ra­zor­backs let­ter-win­ner out of Lit­tle Rock Cen­tral and reg­u­lar starter the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons, a pre­sea­son foot in­jury lim­ited Wil­liams to just six games off the bench. She in­jured her other foot last week and watched the Mis­souri game in street clothes.

“The ini­tial re­port was we don’t think it will be as long as last time,” Neigh­bors said.

CRANT OS­BORNE/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Arkansas ju­nior guard Jalen Har­ris shoots a 3-pointer in a win over Texas A&M at Bud Wal­ton Arena re­cently. Play­ing bas­ket­ball pow­er­house Ken­tucky on Satur­day, the Hogs won’t be look­ing ahead as they host the Van­der­bilt Com­modores on Wed­nes­day at Wal­ton.

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