The Arkansas Razorbacks got the Mike Anderson era of basketball off to a solid start Friday night with an 83-63 victory over South Carolina Upstate.
Anderson estimated that he had 60 to 80 family members and friends at the contest that drew 10,500, including his mentor, former Razorback coach Nolan Richardson, a College Basketball Hall of Fame member.
“This job is a special job at a special place,” Anderson said. “Being here and seeing what took place to get it where it was has me motivated.”
The Razorbacks took control of the game early with their defense and never lost control, although the play did get sloppy at times.
“I was happy with our guys with their effort,” said Anderson. “We got a tremendous start. That’s they way you would like to start every game. We went to our bench and there was a drop-off. But a lot of it was emotion. You can only play so long on emotion, but I think our fans got some glimpses of things to come.”
Anderson liked the aggressiveness shown by the players on their home court.
“We want to take care of home, and when teams come here, we want to make sure they are uncomfortable,” Anderson said. “I believe we did that tonight.”
Anderson was happy that he go so many on his roster quality minutes, with every scholarship player getting double-digit minutes in the contest.
“We got of quality minutes for a lot of guys when it mattered,” Anderson said.
Anderson liked the crowd, but is anticipating drawing better in the future.
“This is a style of basketball that hasn’t been played here in a while, Anderson said. “There is potential here, but we have to keep working. We are by no means where we want to be.”
The Razorbacks forced 19 turnovers in the game, but had 23 themselves, to Anderson’s chagrin.
“I want to see our guys shoot at least 70 times in a game,” Anderson said. “If we took care of the basketball that would have happened.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME— Marshawn Powell scored 19 points and snared 5 rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time. The junior forward looks to be in the best shape of his career, allowing him to be active at both ends of the floor. He looks good as the front man at the Hogs’ press and he is scoring inside and with a nice mid-range jumper. He was one of eight players to score at least 7 points.
PLAY OF THE GAME — Many plays stood out in the contest, but the Razorbacks may have been at their running best when freshman guard B.J. Young cleared a rebound, took a couple of dribbles and then fired a perfect pass down court to a streaking Marvell Waithe. The 6-9 senior forward caught the ball cleanly in transition and slammed it home with a tomahawk dunk.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD – Rickey Scott may be a 6-3 guard, but you wouldn’t know it from his stat line. The broad-shoulder sophomore carved out room to gather a team high 7 rebounds in the contest, while also scoring 11 points, making 2 steals and 2 assists. Waithe led the Hogs in offensive rebounds with three.
STAT OF THE GAME — The stat of the game wasn’t a good one for the Razorbacks. The Hogs played sloppy, suffering 23 turnovers.
“When you play a lot of players you are going to have turnovers,” Anderson said. “I can live with 15, but when you get up to 23, that’s too much. Some of them were just careless where they just took the ball out of our hands. We’re not a team that can survive a lot of turnovers. But that is very correctable. We’ll clean that up.”
UP NEXT — The Hogs are back at home Wednesday at 7 p.m. for a contest against a very solid ballclub in the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, who are coming off back-to-back Summit League titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. They return three starters, including guard Reggie Hamilton, who averaged 17.6 ppg. and 5.3 apg. last season. Darren Sorrenson, who was an assistant at Arkansas under Stan Heath, is on the coaching staff. Oakland plays at Alabama on Monday before visiting the Hogs on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks make their annual appearance in Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. Friday when they play host to old Southwest Conference rival Houston at Verizon Arena.