Arkansas may be playing better with three wins in four games surrounding a near miss at Missouri, but Mike Anderson said the Hogs still have much ground to be gained over the last six games.
"We are still behind the 8-ball," Anderson said Monday in review of the LSU victory and preview of a home date with South Carolina at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
That was in response to a question about Saturday's celebration of Razorback history with six Final Four teams represented on the court along with former president Bill Clinton and former Arkansas coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton. Does he worry about an emotional letdown after such a big weekend for the Hogs?
"No, we've been in so many games, that go down to one or two possessions," Anderson said, then noting the eight-ball line that he's used so often since the Hogs lost at home to both Florida and Missouri.
"We've lost some games and you take that Missouri game last week where we didn't finish. We have to finish."
South Carolina is just 10-15, but coach Frank Martin's teams have won their last two, beating Vanderbilt and Alabama. Arkansas is 16-9, 5-7 in league play, two ahead of the Gamecocks.
"Frank's teams are intense and challenge you with physical play," Anderson said. "They get in the lanes. You have to make plays against them. We remember last year. They took it right to us. We know they are going to be physical."
Anderson praised senior forward Coty Clarke for providing a "calming" influence on the team. Clarke has scored in double figures in four of his last five games, going for 16 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the 81-70 victory over LSU.
"He's a glue guy," Anderson said. "He talks on the floor, but mainly he is a guy who does it by example."
Clarke has hit 17 of 36 threes for 47.2 percent. Would Anderson want Clarke to take more threes, or is he taking the right shots?
"I think it's about taking the right shots," Anderson said. "He's taken good shots and timely shots and made them. He's got a nice stroke and has a lot of confidence right now. We see a different player right now, a player who imposes his will."
His only worries are Clarke's early foul trouble. He picked up two quick fouls against LSU.
"Some of it's lazy, careless fouls," Anderson said. "Touch fouls, early fouls before he's in the flow. There was one early where he had Johnny O'Bryant pushed 12 feet out, then he goes over his back. He isn't going to be able to get to that one. He's 6-7 and Johnny is 6-9. He has to move his feet, not reach with his hands. He has to be more selective."
Anderson said he still didn't know the availability of freshman forward Moses Kingsley. Out with a back injury against LSU, Kingsley had the day off with the team on Sunday. Anderson said he'd have to wait and see if Kinglsey could practice Monday and then how he feels on Tuesday.
"He's day-to-day right now," Anderson said. "We'll see what he can do today."
Anderson was still beaming about Saturday's celebration.
"I just thought it was a great day for all Razorbacks," he said. "It was on display. The Razorback tradition, the Razorback pride, Bud Walton Arena, some of the great players of the past were here in the house. And the whole nation got a chance to see that as well as former president Bill Clinton, Coach Richardson, Coach Sutton. And then of course you're playing against a team such as LSU.
"And how the game just kind of played out. I just thought it was a coming together of a lot of things. The past, present and future. It was a coming together, and it made those guys that came here and helped … Sidney Moncrief, U.S. Reed, Jim Counce, all those guys.
"The other Triplets, Miller, Day, Mavberry, all those guys on that team. Warren Linn was here, Michael Hogue. Roger Crawford. John Engskiov, Lee Wilson. But to see those guys all under the same roof. And a lot of those guys had never been in the presence of each other.
"To me, that's what made it really remarkable. They hadn't been with each other. So to see that all come together, and knowing they're all Razorbacks and they all are the reason for the tradition. And more importantly there is tradition. There's a history here, and it's a rich history.
"It's one we want to continue. It's a great, great story, and I think people got a chance to witness that. So when I reflect on that, there's a lot pride. And that passion that we talked about. Not only that, wanting to be at the pinnacle of college basketball. Wanting the Razorbacks to be at the pinnacle."
Anderson: Still Behind 8-ball
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