Arkansas will play before a sellout on Saturday, but will Michael Qualls play? That was the question of the day at Mike Anderson's media briefing on Thursday.
Qualls is "day-to-day" after spraining his knee against South Carolina. Anderson said it would probably be a "game time" decision on whether or not the junior forward could play against Mississippi State on Saturday.
Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena. Anderson said the Hogs have enough depth to "absorb" losing Qualls, if he can't play against the Bulldogs.
"I don't think he'll practice today," Anderson said, noting it will be just a matter of how quickly Qualls responds to treatment on if he will play against Mississippi State. The Hogs did not practice Wednesday, their usual off day.
The sellout was announced Thursday afternoon with one note that standing room tickets for suite holders are still available. But all tickets are gone for the second time this season. All tickets for the Ole Miss game were also sold.
There will be a ceremony at halftime during which Sidney Moncrief's jersey is hoisted in the rafters of Bud Walton Arena. It once hung in Barnhill Arena. It's part of a run of such honors. Corliss Williamson and Nolan Richardson will also be honored later this season.
Anderson said he's excited about the ceremony. He said Moncrief spoke to the team during fall practices, exciting his players with a motivational-styled speech.
"It's awesome," Anderson said of the Moncrief ceremony. "Our players met him and know he's Arkansas' favorite son. It's great that they feel connected to him now.
"I always watched Sidney, and I call him Super Sid, as an NBA player and here. He played with one of my best friends, Paul Pressey, at Milwaukee. He was a super athlete and one of the better rebounding guards to ever play. It's a sellout and that's music to my ears."
How will Anderson account for the possible loss of Qualls?
"By committee," Anderson said. "Manny Watkins, Nick Babb might get a few more minutes. Jacorey Williams can play the big forward. Our team has enough depth to absorb it. It's day-to-day. We'll see."
Arkansas (17-5, 6-3) will play what Anderson calls a "surging" Mississippi State club. The Bulldogs (11-11, 4-5) won their last two SEC games, winning at home against LSU and at Tennessee.
"They are getting guys healthy," Anderson said. "Craig Sword was injured earlier. He's healthy now. He's an attacking big guard. They are getting all of their pieces together and are surging.
"They get after you on defense and cause havoc. They turn you over. It will be a great challenge. They are building some consistency."
Anderson likes the way the Hogs have played of late, especially on defense over the last four games.
"I liked the way we pushed it on offense against South Carolina," Anderson said. "We got in our offense quicker."
Depth was a positive factor in the last UA victory, something Anderson had wanted to see.
"I think the honor system was working," Anderson said. "We ask our players when they are tired or winded, to raise their hands. I saw more hands.
"I think we are responding, I'm seeing more consistency. Our defense is going in the right direction. We are getting up and down on offense, playing up tempo."
Anderson was asked about Anthlon Bell's lack of shooting success. The junior guard has made just 1-of-17 on threes in his last five SEC games.
"I thought he played well," Anderson said of Bell's play against Carolina. "It just didn't show up (in made shots). His defense was good, he took charges and I thought we played well with each other. I thought our help defense was the best it's been. I thought Anthlon was good with his curls and cuts.
"I think he's been shooting it well in practice and he just needs to take his practice to the game. As a team, I think we are taking our practice to the games."
Anderson: Qualls "day to day"
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