FAYETTEVILLE -- During this month when the groundhog sees his shadow, some two-legged Hogs saw the light.
First, from the darkest recesses of the Arkansas Razorbacks men's basketball bench, freshman forward Gabe Osabuohien emerged for a by far career-long 17 SEC minutes to be a subtle star of last Tuesday's 81-65 triumph over South Carolina even as senior star guards Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford scored 25 and 24 points.
"There's a guy that didn't even take a shot tonight, Gabe, and he probably had the most impact on the game," Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. "He took two charges, got a 5-second call, got a big rebound and kick-out in the second half for a three-point shot by Barford. His energy shot throughout this whole team. A blue-collar guy."
Anderson has begged for a blue-collar guy among a power forward seniors Dustin Thomas and Arlando Cook and sophomore Adrio Bailey.
All briefly have appeared the answer then slipped into inconsistency, their games perhaps more offensively predicated than the defense Anderson most craves.
So quickly off the bench Tuesday Anderson turned to Osabuohien. A late signee and least credentialed of Arkansas' 2017-18 recruiting class, Osabuohien impressed Anderson during practices taking more charges than American Express.
In games the 6-8, 219-pounder has taken more charges, seven in 69 minutes, than the other scholarship Razorbacks spanning 184 to 752 minutes.
Whether a starter like Corey Beck or an equally willing to take a charge from a rhino reserve like walk-on Guy Whitney, Nolan Richardson, Anderson's coaching mentor, always found a spot for a Razorback courageously reckless.
Expect Anderson to do likewise.
Thursday night at Walton Arena an entire Arkansas team saw the light.
The Razorbacks women, only 12-12 overall and 3-8 in the SEC but already SEC improved under new Coach Mike Neighbors over last season's 2-14, won respect even while losing 90-85 to the 11th-ranked perennially powerful Tennessee Lady Vols.
Tennessee is among those SEC women's teams out of Arkansas' league even with Arkansas in its league. The Lady Vols seemed fully capable, especially pulling away closing the third quarter up 10, of approaching the 90-42, 111-69 and 88-54 routs that No. 7 reigning South Carolina, No. 2 Mississippi State and No 15 Missouri put on Arkansas.
Neighbors said his Razorbacks opened with effort but surrendered to the inevitable those games.
No white flag waved Thursday. Fueled by Devin Cosper's 29 points and Malica Monk's 25, Arkansas rallied to lead twice by one in the fourth quarter and was just a would-be three-point try shy for a tie when Tennessee's Rennia Davis made the game-sealing steal with nine seconds left.
"We never gave up on ourselves," Cosper said postgame. "We believed."
For this rebuilding team, belief is the foundation on which Neighbors, a Final Four coach at the University of Washington, aims to develop Arkansas up to everybody's league in its league.
Sports on 02/10/2018
Print Headline: Osabuohien brings blue-collar work ethic