The good news for the Razorback basketball team is that it broke out of a two-game funk in the second half of Saturday's LSU game overcoming a 14 point deficit to end a nine year losing streak at the Pete Maravich Center. The bad news is the team is on the road again at South Carolina Wednesday night where the Gamecocks have lost just one SEC game this season.
The Razorbacks, which typically struggle against good defensive teams, will be going up against one of the best in the league.
"They want to just get into you," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said when asked about the challenge his players will face. "They're aggressive, physical. Ball screens, they're going to push up.They do a good job of rotating to the ball when you penetrate. You have to be aware of charge-taking but they don't give up many on the three-point line either."
Anderson praised senior guard Dusty Hannahs for "stepping up and showing some leadership" against LSU and he noted that junior guard Daryl Macon also played a key role in the win. Both players scored 17 points in the win. But the head Hog also had some good things to say about freshman forward Adrio Bailey who got a rare start against the Tigers.
"I was real proud of Adrio," Anderson gushed. "I mean this guy took two charges in nine minutes. We haven't had a guy take two charges all year long in one game and I thought Dustin Thomas also responded in a positive way. (he) Almost had a double double and you could just see he played with a lot of confidence."
The Hogs outscored the Tigers by 17 points in the second half but happy as Anderson was with the comeback he warned that it will take a more consistent effort to come away from Columbia with a win.
"Do it for 40 minutes,' Anderson stressed, "and get off to a good start."
And how do his players, who have struggled early on in several SEC games this season, get off to a good start?
"How about making some shots," Anderson responded. "It helps when you can made some shots. Defense helps too but it's unfortunate that some guys play as their offense goes. Your defense has got to be there constantly. If we don't score, don't let them score."
The Gamecocks are 9th in the conference in scoring but they have the second hottest hand in the league in senior guard Sindarius Thornwell who is averaging right at 20 points per game.
"We're going to have to do it by committee," Anderson said when asked how he plans to slow Thornwell down in the game. "We have to keep him off the boards because he can put it on the floor. He can shoot the basketball and he's their go-to guy. They go through him on a lot of stuff."
South Carolina is locked in a three-way tie for the lead in the SEC standings with Kentucky and Florida. All three teams sit at 20-5 overall and 10-2 in league play. The Razorbacks are three games back in a tie with Alabama for 4th place.
The two teams are set for an early 5:30 pm. tip off on the SEC Network.