Arkansas Readies For Border War With Missouri

Arkansas (8-7, 2-1) and SEC Player of the Week Anthlon Bell will try and push their winning streak to three on Tuesday night when it travels to face Missouri (8-7, 1-1) in an 8 p.m. game in Columbia that will be televised by the SEC Network.

Missouri head basketball coach Kim Anderson has taken a real good look at Arkansas’ last two games - home wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

In the first one, the Razorbacks forced the Commodores into 26 turnovers and followed that up with knocking down 16-of-24 3-pointers in the victory over the Bulldogs.

That’s how Arkansas (8-7, 2-1) with reigning SEC Player of the Week Anthlon Bell goes into Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. game at Missouri (8-7, 1-1), where current Razorback coach Mike Anderson coached for five years.

Arkansas players Jimmy Whitt and Manny Watkins both grew up in Columbia, Mo., and became friends.

“It’s like anything,” Kim Anderson said of Arkansas’ press. “ You talk about it too much you freak people out. I think Arkansas does a great job with their pressure. We’ll obviously work on it. We have worked on it. The important thing is to play basketball and realize you’ve got to look up the floor, get the ball to the middle of the floor. You’ve got to get the ball reversed. 

“You can’t really diagram it because Mike’s team does such a great job of changing things up. Hopefully our experience of some of our guys being through it a year ago and a team or two this year that’s pressed us will be enough to allow us to be in a little bit of a comfort zone.”

Dusty Hannahs (16.8) hit 8-of-13 3-pointers against Mississippi State while elbow 6-3 guard Bell (17.3) knocked down 5-of-7 during a week he had 51 points in the combined two games.

The Razorbacks are fourth nationally while hitting 44.4 percent (104-of-234) of their 3-pointers while Bell leads the SEC in 3-point shooting in league games at 57.7 percent (15-of-26).

“I’m really concerned,” Kim Anderson said. “ In their SEC games, I know it’s a small sample, but they’re shooting 52 percent from 3 and 43 percent overall. I think we probably better guard the 3-point line. Bell and Hannah are their guys where you’ve got to get to them. They’re shooting at an amazing clip from the 3-line. It was a big concern for us against Auburn, too. Hopefully we can repeat that performance.”

Missouri is coming into this game off an impressive 76-61 win over Auburn that certainly got Mike Anderson’s attention.

“Missouri is a team that is coming off a great win against Auburn and had them down 20 something so that tells me that they are playing a lot better than they were earlier in the year,” Anderson said. 

“They have been pretty much like us, a young team that is inexperience, but having played 14 games into the season now, I am sure they have got a better feel for their team and that is what we are trying to find - our identity - so it is a big ballgame and things get heated up in conference play.

“It is a tremendous challenge for us and it is a great opportunity.”

Mike Anderson believes that Arkansas will need a big game from 6-10 center Moses Kingsley (16.8, 9.8).

Kingsley had 26 points against Vanderbilt and then 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks against Mississippi State.

“He is playing well,” Mike Anderson said. “He has had an opportunity to go out and showcase what he is capable of doing. After playing with and behind a guy like Bobby Portis, he saw some things that Bobby did for our team and he has worked relentlessly throughout the off-season and now it is his time to shine.

“He, for the most part, has been pretty consistent and we are going to need a tremendous, tremendous game from Moses when we come into Columbia.”

Arkansas is also getting excellent play from point guard Jabril Durham, who is averaging 7.0 points and 7.5 assists per game, which is third nationally.

“Every game is  totally different and that is why I say that we want to get that balance where we can hurt you inside, but at the same time we can also hurt you outside with guys that can shoot the ball,” Mike Anderson said.

“We have some guys that are playing at a high level and Jabril Durham, a guy that played like 10 minutes last year all of a sudden now is one of the leading assists guys not only in the conference, but in the nation.

“He has some guys that he can get the ball to and spread the floor and Moses is playing well. Our bench has got to continue to come on.

“That’s why I want our identity to be that we are the ultimate team.”

Kim Anderson expects a battle.

“I’ve always liked their talent level and after watching them there may be a little drop off from a year ago, but this team, as it plays more and I watch them more as they play more together, they seem to be getting better every day,” Kim Anderson said. “Every game is a tough game for us and this one is no exception.”

So does Mike Anderson, whose team was 27-9 last season, but survived at Missouri only because Wes Clark missed two free throws.

“We played down their last year and it took two missed free throws for us to walk out of their with a win so I am sure it is going to  be just as tough as Kim has those guys playing with a lot of energy there,” Mike Anderson said.

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