Razorbacks Jump Back Into The Fire

Arkansas' basketball team tries to put Brooklyn in its rearview mirror with a home game against Northwestern State (1-5) on Tuesday night and a road one at Wake Forest (4-2) on Friday night.

Arkansas’ basketball team has to put its epic collapse in Brooklyn Friday behind it quickly as it’s right back to action this week with a pair of games.

The Razorbacks (2-3) - who lost both games in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off in Brooklyn - will host Northwestern State (1-5) Tuesday night at 7 at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas will then leave Fayetteville for its first true road game at Wake Forest (4-2) Friday night at 6 p.m.

“Games like that, you've just got to have a short-term memory,” noted Arkansas senior guard and All-Tournament selection Anthlon Bell. “You can't do nothing about it. Like I said you just have to pick back up where you left off and keep working.”

That was the same sentiment expressed by Razorback head coach Mike Anderson, whose team fell 83-73 to Georgia Tech on Thanksgiving Day and then led Stanford 65-48 with 6:38 left on Friday before losing 69-66.

“This team here is looking forward to getting back on the floor and hopefully  proving  to get better,” Anderson said. “We had a tough trip there up in New York.  

“I thought the first game we came out and Georgia Tech really attacked us on the glass and really did a good job controlling the game from that standpoint. 

“The second game game against  Stanford we came out with great, great  energy.  I liked what I saw from that standpoint. So from one game to the next game I thought we got better but we didn’t finish the job. 

“When you have the opportunity to really put a team away you have got to put the pedal to the metal and we didn’t do that.”

Arkansas sophomore forward Trey Thompson (6-10, 255), injured in the first half of Thursday’s game will not be available for Tuesday’s game.

That will leave Arkansas with just nine healthy scholarship players.

“I don’t know,” Anderson said of how long he would be out. “Yesterday he was doing some rehab, I’m sure today he will rehab it so it is day-to-day. But I know he won’t be playing in the game tomorrow.”

That will likely mean that true freshman Lorenzo “Doobie” Jenkins (6-7, 215), who has not played in the season’s first five games, is likely to get some playing time this week.

“He is probably going to be thrown into the fire from the standpoint of we have to have another forward out there, another body out there so we don’t tire these guys out,” Anderson said. “That could have had an effect on the end of the Stanford game because you have to remember that we played back-to-back games.

“Trey got hurt in the Georgia Tech game and now you are playing with seven (actually eight) guys and that is pretty demanding. But we will go with the guys that are ready and Doobie will be ready.”

Anderson lamented the fact that Arkansas didn't put Stanford away in that final six-plus minutes.

“Defensively, I just thought we didn’t get after it from the defensive standpoint,” Anderson said. “I am taking about half court defense. They got the rebounds, they got the loose balls. It just seemed like we played back on our heels and not to lose.

“I think if there is one way to describe it, we played not to lose. We had a lead and as you can see they got more aggressive and I thought we went in the other direction.

“When you score one point in 6:38, that is a telling sign in itself that we are not being aggressive, not being assertive. So that is something that our guys will learn from.”

Arkansas and Northwestern State played one of the more entertaining games at Bud Walton Arena last season with the Razorbacks winning 100-92 on Dec. 28, 2014.

Michael Qualls led Arkansas with 28 points while Bobby Portis had 22 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Northwestern State’s guard duo of Jalan West and Zeek Woodley combined for 46 points.

West is out for the season with an ACL tear that happened in the season-opening loss to Ole Miss, but Woodley is back and averaging 23.8 points per game.

“…Now we have another  opportunity to play against a Northwestern team that they have lost one of their better players but still  is a very dangerous basketball team,” Anderson said. “We played them last year  and it was up and down. So if people want to see an up and down game they will get that with Northwestern State coming in.”

The Razorbacks will play Wake Forest (4-2) on Friday that already owns wins over Indiana (82-78) and UCLA (80-77) in the Maui Invitational as well as Maryland Baltimore-County and Bucknell (90-82) as well as losses to Richmond (90-82) and Vanderbilt (84-64).

Arkansas will hope to get continued production from the trio of 6-3 junior guard Dusty Hannahs (17.3), Bell (16.0),6-10 Moses Kingsley (15.8 points, 10.2 rebounds) and 6-4 freshman guard Jimmy Whitt (11.3).

Kingsley, who had just one double-double in his first two seasons, has three in five games this season and joins LSU freshman Ben Simmons as the other two players in the SEC averaging a double-double so far.

Bell and Hannahs have combined for 32 3-pointer so far - tops in the SEC and more than than 128 teams in the country.

Hannahs leads the SEC in 3-point shooting at 51.0 percent (14-of-27) while Bell is shooting 43.9 percent (18-of-41) from beyond the arc.

“That's the thing about it, these guys are in different roles than they were last year,” Anderson said. “And so that's the process. They got to understand now that you guys are the feature guys. Last year they were the guys that were the role guys to kind of add on. 

“And you look at the numbers...Moses it's incredible what he's doing. You look at even Bell. A guy like Dusty Hannahs wasn’t even playing last year. So as you enter those roles there's some accountability.”

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