The best pre-Christmas present the Razorback basketball team is getting this week is to play two games in three days.
That's much better than three games in three weeks.
"I like it from a standpoint that we're playing games," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "That's how you get experience. We can practice and practice and practice, but there's nothing like a basketball game."
The Razorbacks (5-3) will host Eastern Kentucky (7-5) on Tuesday and Louisiana Tech (6-5) on Thursday before breaking for Christmas.
They'll begin having at least two games a week from that point on and won't have any classes to deal with until mid-January.
"It's just basketball right now," Anderson said. "It gives us an opportunity to really hone in on the basketball aspect of it. They can put some time in. If they're struggling on their shots, they can get in the gym and work with the coaches and get in that rhythm."
Eastern Kentucky is coming into this game off a 59-53 road win at Jacksonville State and has won its last four games.
The Colonels are coached by former Ole Miss player and assistant Michael White and opened the season with a 76-66 loss at Mississippi State.
"Eastern Kentucky's a team that wants to play mid-tempo," Anderson said. "They'll push the ball when they have to, but they want to keep the game in the 60s. (We need to) make them use their depth. They play about 7 guys, and hopefully we can get them into that bench."
Arkansas is using its nine healthy players and walk on Kikko Haydar to all play significant minutes. Sometimes the bench has played better than the starters.
That was the case in Saturday's 62-55 win over Southeastern Louisiana according to Anderson.
"We've played 9-10 guys, and hopefully that can be an advantage for us," Anderson said. " I trust our bench, especially with the energy they came in with the other night. Actually I think got the game turned around."
A big key off the bench Saturday was freshman guard Rashad Madden, who also goes by Ky.
Madden had 10 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and non turnovers in a sparkling 24-minute effort.
"I thought we saw some of his total game he can bring to the table," Anderson said. "Now the key is can we build on that and be consistent.
"....When you talk about 6-5, 6-6 guy, I think Ky's a very good athlete," Anderson continued. "He's very versatile, he's very unselfish as well. And he can make some shots. He can get to the free throw line. He's a guy, I think in time, is going to be a tough matchup as he gets stronger and more experience."
Ironically, freshman guard B.J. Young was not as good in the starting line-up on Saturday as he had been off the bench.
Young is averaging 15.3 points to lead the team, but had just six points and five rebounds in his first college start last Saturday.
"I think nerves, that's all," Anderson said. "Tentativeness and nerves. Sometimes when you come off that bench you come in, in a different mindset. I think just putting him in there to see how he responds, just like a typical freshman, he was nervous. He wanted to be perfect. When you're a young guy you want to be perfect."
Anderson said it would be a game-time decision on whether he start Young again on Tuesday.
Eastern Kentucky will likely open with a three-guard line-up with 6-2 senior Joshua Jones (10.0), 5-11 junior Mike DeNunno (9.5) and 6-1 junior D'Mitri Riggs (7.8) opening up along to go along with its top two scorers in 6-5 senior fo
rward Jaron Jones (13.3) and 6-8 freshman Eric Stultz (10.3).
"I think they're going to try to open up the floor, create off the dribble. They've got some guys that can knock down shots. But it's going to be a possession game," he said. "They'll mix it up on defense. They'll go man, they'll go zone. They'll alternate back-and-forth."
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