Beard Named SEC's Freshman Of The Week

Arkansas rookie Anton Beard earns the SEC's Freshman of the Week after helping the No. 18 Razorbacks (22-5, 11-3) to a pair of wins last week and making games Tuesday night against Texas A&M (19-7, 10-4) on Tuesday night and at No. 1 Kentucky (27-0, 14-0) on Saturday even bigger.

Only one of the 10 members that will trot out for the Arkansas-Texas A&M game on Tuesday night will be less than 6-foot-5.

But that one - Arkansas rookie point guard Anton Beard (6-0, 180) — will certainly be standing as tall as any of them after winning the SEC Freshman of the Week honor.

Beard earned the award after a week in which he averaged 12 points, 3.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds as the No. 18 Razorbacks (22-5, 11-3) notched two wins last week over Missouri and at Mississippi State.

“I am very, very proud of him,” Anderson said. “He has stayed the course and really has progressed throughout the year and it is good recognition of how well he is playing and the impact he is having on our program.”

During those games, Beard scored 24 points despite taking only nine shots from the field - six of which he hit while going 3-of-5 from 3-point range and also going 8-of-11 from the free throw line.

“I feel honored,” Beard said. “It's a good thing to win. There are a lot of freshmen in the SEC, a lot of good guards in the SEC that are freshmen. I feel honored but I really don't consider it just me. I think my team won that award this week.”

Arkansas is 6-1 since his insertion into the starting line up and is currently riding a six-game winning streak.

“I think he's played well,” Anderson said. “Ever since I've inserted him in the lineup it's given us that balance I've been looking for. The balance of defense, offense, toughness. Guys making plays. Not necessarily just offensively, but defensively.

“I think it's given us a little rhythm,” Anderson added. “I think it's taken a little of the pressure off of Ky with the ball-handling. It's been a positive situation with him coming into the lineup.”

Missouri head coach Kim Anderson agrees with that sentiment.

"We had thought about him going in hoping that he didn't play as many minutes as he did," Kim Anderson said. "Watching him play as we prepared for the game, we thought he had really improved and given them another guy that could score. He scored against us - I don't know maybe 13 points against us - and handled the ball well and shot the ball well from three.

"When you think of Arkansas, you think of Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls and both of them are great players," Kim Anderson added. "But when I look at their team, especially those first five guys now with (Alandise) Harris and Beard and of course (Rashad) Madden, I think that is a really, really good basketball team.”

Beard will be facing a backcourt on Tuesday that has 6-5 Alex Caruso, 6-5 Jordan Green and 6-7 Danuel House.

“You know I just like play with heart and no height,” Beard said. “There are a lot of short people out there that ball. Everybody ain't tall. They put their clothes on the same way I do. So I ain't scared.”

Arkansas sophomore forward Bobby Portis loves having Beard as a teammate.

“(He adds) a toughness presence to our team out there,” Portis said. “I know when our team starts out every game that their point guards (are) going to have on-ball, on-ball pressure on him for at least 35 minutes. That last five minutes they're going to be giving us the ball.

“ I feel like Anton's come in and just played a hell of a role for us, from the standpoint we don't have to have Ky Madden out there just trying to do everything for us,” Portis added. “Now we have two point guards out there at one time to create for me, Mike and everyone else.”

Beard is averaging 9.6 points and 3.0 assists in his seven games as a starter and is averaging 6.3 points per game and just under two assists overall this season.

"I just stay poised in myself, stay humble and stay hungry," Beard said. "Every day I come in I just try to get better and just try to learn from yesterday every day. Something I didn't do good yesterday, just try to come in and do good today. It's never a day where I'm satisfied."

He has helped Arkansas flourished in close games situations this season.

“It gives us more advantage toward teamwork to where we believe in one another,” Beard said. “Coach has a lot of words on the board in the locker room, called "committed to trust" and "humble and hungry." All we do is believe.

“I think some teams should go through those things because you get in a position the first time you might not know what to do,” Beard added. “But we've been in all kinds of position this year. We just try to learn from them and get better.”

He notes that Arkansas will have extra incentive with former Razorback head coach Nolan Richardson being honored with a banner at halftime of Tuesday’s game.

“That's the one thing coach actually brung up,” Beard said. “It's a great thing for Nolan get noticed at halftime next game. We're just going out there, try to play hard. He made all this happen in Arkansas history. Just trying to play hard for him, too.”

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Tuesday night’s game will be the 11th Arkansas contest this season that has started at 8 p.m. or later.

“We are used to it now,” Anderson said. “It is the thing that is coming down the pike when you talk about the SEC network and just TV itself. All the games are televised and you have just got to adjust to it. We practice normally at 3:30 so that is kind of an adjustment. We are not the only ones playing 8 o’clock.

“It is in inconvenience, but it is one of those deals that everybody does so you can’t complain about it,” Anderson added. “TV is making that happen and what is behind TV is money.”

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