Anderson: Hogs Passed Test

Arkansas got its first victory as a Top 25 team in seven years, but it was more about going on the road for coach Mike Anderson as the Hogs defeated SMU, 78-72. Anderson met with the media on Wednesday morning.

Arkansas popped into the Associated Press poll earlier in the week, for the first time in seven seasons. But that wasn't on Mike Anderson's mind in Dallas. It was getting a victory on the road in front of a sellout crowd in Moody Coliseum.

Asked about the polls and if this was a resume building victory, Anderson went in a different direction.

"To me it's not so much about the resume but about our team getting better," Anderson said. "I thought we got better. This was a test. This was the first time we took this test and guess what? We passed it. We had a chance to go play against a team we played last year that we had a lead on them and they made a run at us here at our place.

"So now we go there to their confines, a sellout crowd and great atmosphere, and our guys responded to the challenge. Defensively, offensively, they were just into the game. They really zeroed in, dialed in so to speak on that particular game."

Anderson didn't seemed to be dialed into the polls, or the significance, although he does know it's a big deal for fans, if not for the 4-0 Razorbacks.

"The challenge to me is to get better every day," he said. "I don't worry (about the polls). It does say that someone has noticed us. But we want to be there at the end. We just want to keep getting better and not worry about that. It's great for the fans. We want to be one of the best teams in the country so don't short change it. If we do what we can do, we'll be there."

Anderson said the Hogs got lifts from a variety of players. After a lull, junior Anthlon Bell provided two big plays down the stretch, including a steal for a layup and a three-point basket, both when SMU looked poised for a run.

"Anthlon made a shot early, but then he lost his stroke," Anderson said. "I did like his defense and he made a big steal and then he knocked down a big shot.

"It's his third year and he's more comfortable. I am more comfortable with him. Bell was big down the stretch and Ky took command of the ball down the stretch and got to the free throw line."

Portis led the way with 22 points. He's shooting 58.7 percent from the field, canning 5 of 6 on threes for 83.3 percent. He was solid in the stretch before fouling out in the closing seconds.

"Bobby has put in the time," Anderson said. "He's dedicated himself. He's more versatile. He can get to the basket and he can step away. He gets action going away from the ball when he steps away. It opens things up. Guys follow him and it's usually one of those guys who is a rim protector.

"Bobby put in the time in camps and has been a gym rat."

Anderson liked the bench support, in particular from Manny Watkins and Jacorey Williams.

"They continue to give us that blue-collar mentality," Anderson said. "As soon as they come out there they are instant impact on the game.

"It's just their tenacity defensively, touching balls, coming up with loose balls, fixing things on defense. And they make the offense flow. They are not ball-stoppers. They move the basketball and they play to win and they are energy.

"If anything, they are energy. They sit there and watch the game and see what's going on and it's amazing, they go out and they take it up to another level. And for a coach that's what you want. You want those guys that come out and really help prepare your team to another level. The wear and tear, it does have an effect and I thought it had an effect on SMU last night."

The Hogs play host to North Texas at 8 p.m. Friday. Tony Benford is the coach, but there was more talk about the assistant, former UA assistant Rob Evans.

"Tony played for Gerald Myers at Texas Tech," Anderson said. "He's going to have athletic guys. And, we know Rob will have his stamp on the team."

Evans grew up in the same El Paso, Texas area as Nolan Richardson.

"Rob is a great man," Anderson said. "He and Coach Richardson are like brothers. I'm in that same family. He's a great person and we played his Ole Miss teams and they hung their hat on defense. He's a dear friend. He comes to Coach Richardson's golf tournament and comes to mine. He was here when we came but I brought my entire staff."

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