Coach Says Hoop Hogs Have Taken Ownership of Their Team

Coach Says Hoop Hogs Have Taken Ownership of Their Team

Mike Anderson says his players have matured greatly in the second half of the SEC race.
Give Razorback fans credit. They didn't pack Bud Walton Arena to the rafters last Saturday afternoon for no reason. Georgia was coming to town having won six of its last seven with Arkansas among its victims. Plus the previous time the Razorbacks were coming off a win over Kentucky (January 14) "Georgia," as Mike Anderson put it, 'hit us in the mouth."

For much of the first half it looked like the Hogs were doomed to relive history in their rematch with the 'Dogs. With a little over five minutes to play in the first half Georgia lead 35-28 behind some red hot shooting. That's when Anderson decided to make a strategy change.

"We were playing a man to man and they were doing good job of attacking us so we switched to a zone and made them shoot jump shots," Anderson explained afterward. "We did a good job out of the zone and we ran out of our zone."

"Georgia's style of basketball is very slow, like grind it out," sophomore guard Michael Qualls added. "We're the opposite. So we had to tone it up."

Tone it up they did, going from seven down to seven up over the next five minutes to lead 44-37 at the break. In the second half the Hogs' bench kicked in helping to wear their opponent down. "Arkansas certainly sustained it longer than we did and so we just played uphill in the second half," Georgia coach Mark Fox lamented. "Once we got behind we just played uphill which is so hard to do on the road."

Razorbacks who had all but disappeared in the first half of the SEC race have become relevant again in an eight game stretch that has produced seven wins. Senior guard Rickey Scott is the latest to step up. Against Georgia Scott hit his first three pointer since December 19 but there was another part of his game that stood out.

"My thing was just turn it up on defense," Scott beamed. "Play defense. I just wanted to get aggressive on defense. I feel like I'm a great defender so that's what I tried to show today."

"It's unfortunate that he hasn't played as much as he wanted to," Anderson said of Scott, "but he's been practicing well and I figured we needed him (against Georgia). His defense, getting loose balls, is an important part to our team especially as we get ready to go down the stretch."

Anderson believes the biggest change in his team involves maturity. "Whenever adversity takes place they don't get rattled," he stressed. "As a matter of fact they look over at me and say, 'Coach, we got this. We got this.' They're taking ownership of this team."

How does the head coach explain the struggles that left the Razorbacks 2-6 during the first half of the conference race? "A team is made up of a lot of different parts," Anderson answered. "As you're putting those parts together it doesn't just mesh together all of a sudden. The first eight games we lost a lot of close games. But we learned and experience is your greatest teacher."

Of the road ahead Anderson said, "All we've got to do is just keep doing what we're doing. Winning games. I've always been wired like that. I'm a day-to-day guy."
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