Hoops Commentary: Dawson's Take

Here is Dudley E. Dawson's take from Wednesday night's 109-94 loss at Alabama. Indeed, it was a lopsided loss for the Hogs, but there were a few bright spots.

Since there is so much to gripe about, let's start off with something nice:

Mike Jones: Here is a kid who was labeled a recruiting mistake, labeled someone who might contribute his junior or senior season. Now all of a sudden he is one of this team's top three players - at the moment.

The 6-9 Jones goes for a career-high 15 points and 3 rebounds in the win over Florida and has a career-high 18 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in 29 minutes against Alabama for his first double-double.

He not only attacks the basket, but can shoot it from deep. He is a keeper and someone who has a bright future ahead of him.

"The thing about Mike is that he has gotten tougher and is playing harder now," Arkansas junior Blake Eddins said. "He is really doing some nice things for us and he is just a freshman and is just going to keep getting better and better."

Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson noted that Jones and fellow freshman J.J. Sullinger (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) showed no fear tonight and battled as hard as they could.

"My two freshman did a good job," Richardson said. "...I didn't see any fear at all in them."

Sullinger was stunned he was given a technical during a little skirmish ("they said I taunted"), but continues to impress me with his toughness on the court.

While I am not sure there is much going to get done the rest of this season, you take Jones and Sullinger and add in Andre Iguodala and the other four recruits (if Rashard Sullivan makes his grades), and you have a shot to get something very exciting done in the future.

As for the present, tonight's game was lost last year when Arkansas slapped Alabama around at home and then came into Tuscaloosa and took the Crimson Tide's NCAA Tournament bid right out of their hands with a third straight win over Alabama.

"We talked about it so much," Alabama's Rod Grizzard said. "They not only beat us up there, they beat us up and then they came down here and just took the tournament away from them. The guys have all been talking about how this game was the one that we had to pay them back and it would show that we are a great team."

For all that talk, the reason they won this year is simple - new freshman point guard Mo Williams (13 points, 7 assists and just one turnover in 30 minutes). He gets the rest of the team where they need to go and - as strange as it may be to say - adds much needed maturity and basketball smarts to this otherwise talented outfit.

So SEC overall-leading Alabama (17-3, 6-1) - a great team and one hungry for redemption - came out blazing with a 12-0 start against a Razorback team full and without matching intensity.

Jones had nine of his points in a run that got it back to 21-20, but a 17-0 Bama haymaker was the beginning of the end.

"We fought off that first wave, but the second one just did us in," Eddins said, who had a season-high 11 points in mop-up duty late.

Jannero Pargo's 33 points (he also had six assists) gives him four games of over 30 this year and was six short of the 39 scored by one Al Dillard, who was in the building tonight.

"Coach told me, Al we could have used you tonight," Dillard said.

Larry Satchell had eight points and two blocks in a nice 14-minute effort.
They could have also used some more production from the following Carl Baker (1 point in 18 minutes), Teddy Gipson (2 points in 10 minutes), Brandon Dean (2 points in 18 minutes), Dionisio Gomez , Alonzo Lane and Chuck Tatum (combined 0 points in combined 17 minutes).

Want a meaningless stat? The two teams tied 39-39 in the rebounding battle.
Both teams actually shot 60 percent in the second half.

So 11-9, 3-5. That's not numbers you want to have at this time of year. The Razorbacks - who did have a great win over Florida on Saturday - have lost five of six after a 10-4 and 2-0 start.

This season is fast slipping away - or at least into the ugh, NIT.
There are eight games left - four home and four away - beginning with Auburn at Bud Walton Arena - and then a week off before a trip to Ole Miss.

Just as you shouldn't have gotten to excited about the Florida win, it's not wise to get too down about these one.

But the incosistency of these guys just drives you nuts, doesn't it?

--Dudley E. Dawson

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