In the Hogs' 87-52 win over LSU on Wednesday night, the Arkansas bench scored 33 points as the starters were able to rest for much of the second half in a game that was never closer than the opening tip.
"Our bench needs to continue to get better but there are some guys we're going to give a chance," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "A lot can happen in two minutes when you get in there."
A total of 13 players got into the game in all, a far cry from the six scholarship players that suited up for Arkansas in its first two games because of suspensions and injuries.
Among the most impressive off the bench were junior Jemal Farmer and freshman Glenn Bryant. Farmer hit a trio of 3-point baskets in the second half to push the lead to as many as 37 points and Bryant grabbed eight rebounds before halftime to help the Razorbacks to a 22-point lead at the intermission.
It was the most points for Farmer since scoring 18 in an early December win over Mississippi Valley State and the second-most minutes (18) in SEC play.
Farmer started the first 16 games of the season but was benched in favor of Marcus Britt early in the SEC season. Pelphrey said he has been happy with his attitude through all of that.
"He's been working hard and he's a beautiful kid," Pelphrey said. "He's got some physical ability. There has been a period of time where he's been frustrated not playing the way he wants to play and frustrated with not playing the way I want him to play. Through it all he's been a great teammate. Even when they've all not been playing as much as they want they've been great teammates. I've told them to be ready because you don't know when they'll their chance and they all have. You know what you're going to get from (the starters) but these are kind of the unknown Hogs. You can't prepare for everybody. So if one can come in and get eight rebounds in the first half and another can hit two or three 3-pointers in the second half it helps us win games and it's important."
For Bryant, playing time has been scarce. The freshman from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia has averaged just nine minutes off the bench and has played six minutes or less 10 times this season.
Against LSU, though, he flourished, scoring six points and grabbing nine rebounds in 16 minutes.
"I think he's more oriented to stay around the basket a little bit," Pelphrey said. "When you look at shot blocking and rebounds per minutes played, he's our best player at that. The problem is he'll give up a shot or a rebound where he shouldn't and that's part of being a freshman. We're always going to give him a chance because he's helped us win games this year, make no mistake about that. I think he'll have a chance to be a really good player once all the basketball stuff catches up with him.
"When he understands that just because you challenge a shot doesn't make it right. There are certain times where if he gets a shot off we'll challenge it and live and die with that, but there are some guys we don't want getting the ball off. They aren't allowed to shoot. He needs to show more sense of urgency at times. He no longer can stand under the basket, he's got to block out and then jump, how to stay square, how to sprint to a pick-and-roll, those are the mental things for Glenn that he's learning and getting. It was good to see him run full speed last night and get that lob because he can make plays athletically that the rest of us can't make. I think he's got a chance to make a big jump here the last three or four weeks of our season to give us a big shot in the arm."
Sanchez Still Out
Redshirt sophomore Michael Sanchez continues to be sidelined with plantar fasciitis. Pelphrey said prognosis for his return this season isn't promising.
|Marc F. Henning|
|Michael Sanchez has missed 20 games this season.|
"Probably some of the stuff we're talking about now is: Is it possible to get back?" Pelphrey said. "That's in the equation of where we from here.
"We've had some conversations with Michael and parents and doctors, and I would hope to have an update shortly."
Sanchez started 28 games for Arkansas last season but has played only four times this year and none since Dec. 7. He redshirted his first year for the Razorbacks and the possibilities of a medical redshirt are still unknown.
"I think we're trying to figure out what we're going to do here the rest of the season and then look at things long-term," Pelphrey said.
Pelphrey said he wasn't pleased with senior Mike Washington's performance in the win over LSU.
Washington scored eight points on 2 of 8 shooting from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds in 25 minutes of play. Washington missed Monday's practice with an illness and missed the last 13-plus minutes of the game with Auburn last Saturday with a shin injury.
"I didn't think he played particularly well," Pelphrey said. "Maybe there was some stuff there from the shin or being sick Monday. I thought he gave effort but there was nothing physically wrong with him."