FAYETTEVILLE - Gabe Osabuohien, Darious Hall, and C.J. Jones are Arkansas Razorbacks names not turning the heads of national college basketball pundits.
Yet they could turn the Razorbacks from 80-66 losers to the Texas A&M Aggies on Jan. 30 in College Station, Texas into victors in today's 3 p.m. ESPN televised SEC rematch at Walton Arena.
At least that's Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson hope in this second go-round with Coach Billy Kennedy's nationally No. 21 Aggies.
The Aggies, starting super athletic Tyler Davis and Robert Williams, both 6-10, and DJ Hogg, 6-9, yet a game-breaking 3-point shooter, have the biggest, baddest frontline in the SEC but also the shortest bench. And it keeps getting shorter.
Since that Jan. 30 game the Aggies have dismissed guard J.J. Caldwell, indefinitely suspended reserve guard Jay Jay Chandler and lost reserve guard Duane Wilson to a season-ending injury.
So though A&M's five starters scored 10, 11, 13, 15 and 16 points for a collective 65 of A&M's 80 against Arkansas and gathered a collective 33 of A&M's whopping 45-30 rebounding advantage over Arkansas, A&M off that Jan. 30 box score brings a 2-man bench to Fayetteville.
Only one, 6-10 forward Tonny Troche-Morelos with five rebounds, four points and an assist in 23 minutes, produced significantly.
Obviously, A&M didn't need off the bench help against Arkansas in College Station.
Anderson banks on his Razorbacks forcing the Aggies to need it today at Walton.
In military parlance, freshmen Osabuohien and Hall and sophomore Jones are Arkansas' unknown soldiers. But their recent emergence off the bench performances proved pivotal in successive SEC successes over South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. They joined off the bench senior big man Trey Thompson and rotating power forwards Dustin Thomas, Arlando Cook in allowing Anderson periodically to refresh his starting main men, senior star scoring guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, senior point guard Anton Beard and 6-11 freshman flash Daniel Gafford.
Hall surprised A&M with a big night in College Station, a 13 points and seven rebounds forerunner to his 14 points and 11 boards against Ole Miss.
However the Aggies saw Osabuohien only one mop-up minute and Jones only four minutes.
In Arkansas' last three games 6-8 Osabuohien has totaled 41 blue-collar minutes up front and Jones 47 minutes in the backcourt.
"Our bench is involved so guys aren't playing as tired or as many minutes," Anderson said. "I think we have more guys ready to play and I'm trusting them now to go out and play. I'm trusting Gabe to be the first forward off the bench and give us quality minutes. We see what Darious is doing. I think C.J. is playing with a lot more oomph."
Anderson estimates the "always fantastic" crowd at Walton is worth "eight to 10" Arkansas points.
That still leaves Arkansas short of what transpired in College Station unless its unknown soldiers continue their forward march.
Sports on 02/17/2018
Print Headline: Trio will be counted on to slow down Aggies