Jacorey Williams played just two minutes in the Razorbacks' 84-82 overtime loss to Florida -- the first loss at Bud Walton Arena since the Razorbacks lost to Syracuse in Nov. 30, 2012.
Since that game, Williams has seen the floor much more often and scored six points in each of the Razorbacks' last two contests against Tennessee and Auburn.
Williams credited a challenge issued by senior forward and fellow Birmingham, Ala. native Coty Clarke with his recent success.
"He challenged me before the Tennessee game," Williams said of Clarke. "Right when were walking out he was like, 'Man, Jacorey, I know you can bring something better and I'm trying to get in coach's ear too and tell him that you can bring something to the table.' He was like, 'Man, I'm just challenging you to really go out there and play hard and try not to listen to what anybody is saying and just play. Just go out there and be comfortable.'
"So when I got in the Tennessee game, I just put that into my actions and I went out there and played like it was just me out there. I wasn't really thinking too much, I was just out there playing. Everything was smooth. I was fluent out there. And ever since then, I just had that in my mind before every game."
Although Williams' back-to-back six-point games are tied for his best scoring total in a two-game stretch (he also combined for 12 points against California and Minnesota in Maui) this season, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said he is glad to see more than points in Williams' game. The 6-foot-8 forward also recorded four rebounds in Arkansas' 86-67 win against Auburn and five rebounds in the 87-85 overtime win against Kentucky.
"He's earned more playing time," Anderson said of Williams. "And I think he is playing with a little attitude and that's what this team needs. Not only at home, but away too.
"From the standpoint of him learning what the role is for our basketball team, he's an energy guy, a hybrid forward that can do a lot of things and he is not predicating his game on scoring," Anderson said. "He'll take (a shot) from time to time, but he's not predicating his game on that. My deal, I always say ‘no guts, no glory.' So if he has the guts to shoot, make it. And if he's not making it, he can come over and sit with me.
"He's coming in and doing a lot of the dirty work, though. And that's what I like about him."
In addition to Williams' nine rebounds in 18 minutes in the Razorbacks' only two conference wins, Anderson said he likes the sophomore's ability in transition and his diversity both on the offensive side of the ball and as a defender.
"He's a hybrid forward that is skilled enough to rebound the ball and push it forward like a guard," Anderson said. "He can extend the defense, he can put the ball on the floor and he can make the passes inside and score.
"We're going to face some zone and he does a good job of getting in the creases there. Whether he is making a shot or like the nice dump down he had to Moses there the other night. He does a lot of different things and I like his versatility on defense. He can guard a guard or he can guard a forward and he goes to the glass and rebounds the basketball."
With Missouri coming into town to play Arkansas (13-6, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) at Bud Walton Arena, Williams could see time guarding any one of the Tigers' three leading scorers, 6-foot-5 guards Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross. But he could also face off with 6-foot-9 freshman forward Johnathan Williams III.
The Tigers (15-4, 3-3 SEC) and the Razorbacks tip off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
Williams earns playing time
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout 2017 Rankings DirectoryThe Scout positional, state, regional, national and team rankings for the Class of 2017...
2017 Signing Day announcement scheduleComplete list of announcement times for the most high-profile uncommitted recruits in 2017.
Scout's Top 25 Recruiting ClassesA look at Scout's top 25 classes with just over a week to go to Signing Day.
Weekend Official Visit PrimerScout takes a look at the biggest visitors for the upcoming weekend in the Power 5 conferences...