So many Razorbacks fans sweated out the last minute of the Arkansas-Missouri game at Bud Walton Arena while watching ESPN that a recap isn’t necessary. Suffice it to say that B.J. Young manned up and hit the Hogs’ last 7 points in the final 46 seconds including two old-school three point plays to help seal a 73-71 victory which Powell, Haydar, Clark, Qualls, Wade, and Mickelson helped build.
The House that Nolan Built came alive with Hog Fans’ spirit pent up to be excited about Hawgball again on the court. After Arkansas rocked No. 2 Florida on February 5th and scored a rare road win a few days ago, the more than 19,000 Razorback Fans showed that the beast Nolan created years ago is finally coming alive again.
What you may not have heard are Mike Anderson comments after the game…
First I thought is was a gut check for our basketball team, and it was a game that could have went either way. Early on I thought we had some good momentum and played well, but Missouri is, as I told our guys, Missouri is a very good basketball team. They’ve been in the Top 10, top 12 all year long, and once they got to conference play, they had guys go in and out, but now you can see that they got all the pieces back, and (Keion) Bell, I tell you what, we just couldn’t do anything with him in open court. I thought he made plays for them. It was an emotional game as the story lines have read but the thing about that is that I don’t play the game, you know, and I just thought that I could see with Phil (Pressey) and Laurence (Bowers) I thought that you could see the emotion maybe hitting them a little bit. But at the same time I thought that our guys did a good job defensively. We did a good job defensively. Missouri made a run back at us and what can you say? Marshawn (Powell) made some plays down the stretch and B.J. (Young) makes a couple of “and ones” in a game that we were four down, and it looks like there’s no way that we’re going to find a way to win. Our guys dug down deep and made some plays. They missed some free throws and we made some plays. We made some free throws. We made three out of four going down the stretch. Before that, we go like one for seven or one for eight. You make those free throws, it’s a different game, but I can’t say enough about our defense. We didn’t play particularly great but some of that has to do with Frank Haith and the job that he’s doing at Missouri and their basketball team. We were very very fortunate to come out with a win today. It went down to the last second and I thought we couldn’t have played better defense. Knowing where Phil’s going to be they have got to make a play, and of course I thought that we did a good job at contesting the three point shot.
About B.J. Young… I thought he stepped up and showcased the player he can be, that he’s capable of being. Early on I thought that he was pressing. He actually was trying not to be aggressive and assertive, and I think that’s not B.J. You saw him out of rhythm a little bit, and I took him out and then I thought he gathered his steam and gathered his breath, and that’s what he does. He makes plays for our basketball team, he and Powell. They are the glue guys, but we have some glue guys in Coty Clarke. The jump ball there at the end where Mardracus (Wade) goes to the floor, I thought that was huge, huge for our basketball team.
At the end of the game… We wanted to attack. We wanted to attack the basket because we knew that they were going to try to guard the perimeter, and that’s what B.J. is good at. He’s good at slashing in there, and he was able to finish it, as skinny as he is, he was able to finish it. I thought he did a good job of really just finishing up his shots and going to the line and making the free throw. I think that’s so big when you talk about an “and one” because that free throw actually put us up one.
About adjusting on the final play… We brought our guys up. We brought Coty Clarke up and Mardracus up so time would not eclipse off. So now instead of it being five seconds, he kept it almost to half court. I mean, I’ve seen him do a lot of damage in three seconds, so you give him five seconds and we’re in trouble. It also gave us an opportunity to adjust from the standpoint that we had somebody step up and take some time off the clock, and they had to rush the shot at the end.
About Laurence…. It was great to see him. I hate to see him on the opposing team. I was hoping that they were wearing the uniforms that I was sitting on the sideline but at the same time, I guess, like a father, when you see them, it’s kinda like you glow. They came as young boys and now these guys are men. They’re good at their profession, at what they do, and they are great, great people so I just… I’ve known these guys when they were little bitty guys and now to see them… in a setting and you’ve got a full house and a national TV audience and they’re winners. I think they’re going to be winners in life. I’m proud of them but you know that the emotions are going so there’s a strong feeling. There’s an attachment that will be there forever.
More about Phil Pressey… Just maturity that’s all. The game has slowed down for him. He’s gotten a lot stronger now. It’s his team. You can see that it’s his team. He’s getting… whether offensively or defensively. That don’t surprise me. Phil is… since he was a little kid, he’s been like a coach. He sees things that no one else sees on the floor, and that’s why one of out biggest tasks was to try to take the ball out of his hands as much as we could and make other guys make plays. They’ve got a guy in Bell that he was making some plays for them. I thought (Earnest) Ross did a good job of getting in and attacking the basket and finishing off. We kind a tried to stay with (Jabari) Brown, but again Oriakhi, he’s just a big old guy. You’ve got to take what he gives you and hope he misses some chippies around there. Again, they’ve got a good basketball team.
I thought Kikko (Haydar) did a good job every time he was out there. He was in guys faces. He was harassing even when (Alex) Oriakhi got the ball. He got a jump ball and Oriakhi lifted him up, I think. I thought he was going to shoot him in the basket, man. I mean he’s so strong but the guy (Kikko) just fights. I’ve always been a guy that’s been blue collar and I love toughness, and that’s what he gives you. People around here have heard it. He may be small in stature, but he’s got one of the biggest hearts you’ll see, and Phil’s that kind of player. They’ve just got big hearts. They play the game and they play to win.
Coty was big. I thought Coty was big for us because he knocked down three threes. They did a job and we settled for jump shots early on, I thought. In the second half I thought we did a better job of attacking and I thought Coty did a good job of banging and knocking shots down, and even I think he got some offensive rebounds going down the stretch. He was pretty active. Coty was active.
When you got a guy like Powell, Powell’s really good. As a matter of fact if you noticed in the second half, we were going through him and, not only going through him, but he was delivering. He makes the game a whole lot easier for a lot of guys.
I never talked about the game from an emotional standpoint up to right there at the pre-game. I told our guys that this is going to be just Arkansas and Missouri. “I’m not playing. You guys are.” Certainly there’s going to be emotion because there’s a big time relationship with those kids and the University. There’s no question about it. It’s a great university and we had some great years there. Playing a former team. I say every year but it would be interesting. It was more than interesting. I was a heck of a ball game is what it was.
We are a work in progress. We’re not the same team we started out early in the year. We played Syracuse and I thought we played decent for the most part but this team has had some bumps along the way. So it’s good to see this team have some kind of success, and you can see these guys starting to trust one another a lot more. You’re seeing other guys really stepping up and they have an identity and they know the other guys who they go to and who they make plays for, and so the other guys are sacrificing doing the other little things, rebounding the basketball, making the extra pass, diving on the floor knowing that these guys are hopefully going to be hopefully the guys that can carry us.
It was a great game more than anything. They were trying to beat us and we were trying to beat them. I’m just a focused guy on the next game. My focus is going to be to get ready for practice, then get ready for Georgia. Obviously with the story lines that you guys are writing or you guys are talking about, I think that probably builds it up. I’m just a, I guess I’m just a humble guy. I want our team to come out and play as hard as they could, and as I said, we were fortunate today, very, very fortunate.
I told him that y’all got a good team. Y’all are getting there. Y’all just keep working. We were lucky. I just told him that we were fortunate today.