Gulley's A Man On Fire

Arkansas point guard Fred Gulley, averaging 10.7 points in his past 3 games while shooting a sizzling 65 percent from the field and 71 percent from 3-point range, will lead the Razorbacks (12-6, 1-4) against Auburn (8-8, 0-5) Saturday at 5 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena.

While Arkansas' two-game road swing to Georgia and Tennessee ended in disappointing close losses, the positive play of senior starting point guard Fred Gulley should not be overlooked.

In fact, when you throw in the home win over Kentucky, Gulley is averaging 10.7 points in his last trio of games while going 13-of-20 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

Gulley's also committed just seven turnovers in his last 277 minutes of court action this season.

"Fred is probably being consistent in what he brings to the table," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "He knows what role is, but more importantly now he's a threat out there. He's knocking down open shots, and to me, just to see him attacking the basket and attacking it with the mindset he's going to score. That's big there.

"He's a facilitator," Anderson added. "He understands that, he understands what the coaching staff is asking for him and what he can do to help our basketball team. He's not trying to go over and do things he can't do."

Gulley, a Fayetteville native who transferred from Oklahoma State, will get a chance to continue his solid play when the Razorbacks (12-6, 1-4) host Auburn (8-8, 0-5) Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.

The game against a Tigers team that has lost 21 of its last 22 SEC games home or away is the first for Arkansas in a stretch of three games at home in its next four contests.

""I want to be somebody that's a stabilizer for the team," Gulley said. "If things are going bad, you can get the ball in my hands and I'll make the right play."

Gulley, who had a career-high 12 points in the loss at Georgia, said that having a full year on the court instead of coming in at mid-term as he did last season has helped.

"Last year it was kind of like getting thrown into the fire at mid-season, especially with conference just being around the corner from it," Gulley said. "I got to do a full offseason and summer of working out and preparing my game, and it's really benefitted me. Especially getting to play in all the games before conference."

The Razorbacks are in bad need of a couple of home wins with the Tigers followed in Tuesday night by Missouri, where Anderson left to become head coach at Arkansas.

They had won 23 straight games at home before an overtime loss to Florida earlier this month inside Bud Walton Arena.

""It's time to start another streak," Anderson said. "Let's start finishing. ... Let's finish the win. That's the message to our guys."

Despite dropping to 0-3 on the road, the Razorbacks are still listed projected as an 11th seed in the NCAA Tournament by bracketologist Jerry Palm.

"Arkansas is ahead of where they usually are this time of year," Palm said Friday on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. "They have one really nice win away from home vs. Minnesota."

But Palm also noted that Arkansas is going to need to grab a couple of wins in its remaining road games at Vanderbilt, at LSU, at Missouri, at Mississippi State, at Kentucky or at Alabama to have a chance to punch its ticket to the Big Dance.

"If that Minnesota win is all Arkansas has away from home at the end of the year, it'll be hard to see them getting in," Palm added.

Arkansas has either led or been tied in its last four games, but has gone 1-3 in the stretch while shooting 5-of-25 in the last four minutes of regulation in that quartet of games.

"We've got to be more assertive," Anderson said. "Playing not to lose ... You end up doing it and that's what you do."

K.T. Harrell, a 6-4 junior transfer from Virginia, leads Auburn in scoring at 19.3 points per game while 6-2 senior guard Chris Denson is next at 18.9.

They are joined in the starting line-up by 5-10 freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen (8.8), 6-6, 225-pound senior forward Allen Payne (6.9) and 7-0 senior center Ashaun Dixon-Tatum (6.3).

Arkansas' lone two road wins the last two seasons have come at Auburn.

"They (the Razorbacks) are one of the few teams, not just in our conference but all of college basketball, that play 11 or 12 guys," Auburn head coach Tony Barbee said. "I have never seen a team like (Arkansas) that plays so different at home and on the road. They are a team that presses 94 feet for 40 minutes at home and they press very little on the road. That is their staple."

Auburn comes into the game off a 82-74 loss at Mississippi State on Wednesday, which was the Tigers' fifth straight loss.

In that game, the Tigers' bench was scoreless in a combined 34 minutes of action – something that greatly disappointed Barbee, who is 0-6 lifetime against Arkansas.

"We didn't get any production off the bench," Barbee said after the loss. "Zero. We played with five guys tonight, and that's disappointing."  

Fred Gulley

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