FAYETTEVILLE -- Mike Anderson expects better from his Arkansas Razorbacks bench this evening in Columbia, Mo., against the Missouri Tigers than his reserves provided against Mizzou on Jan. 13 in Fayetteville.
He likely will need it for Arkansas (21-9, 10-7 SEC) to prevail against the Tigers (19-11, 9-8) in this 5 p.m. SEC finale leading into the SEC Tournament in St. Louis. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Even with senior guard Daryl Macon, and his 17.6 SEC scoring average then coming off the bench, Arkansas' reserves only outscored Mizzou's bench, 11-9 while eking by the Tigers, 65-63 in the first meeting.
Since somehow winning its SEC opener, 95-93, over Tennessee despite its bench outscored, 33-5, Arkansas, including its SEC/Big 12 Challenge victory over Oklahoma State, has won 10 games with its bench outscoring opponents eight times. In seven of those victories, Arkansas' bench points advantage ranged from by 11 at Alabama, to 30 over Oklahoma State and 27 and 25 over Ole Miss and Auburn.
While the Razorbacks started this current hot streak of winning 6 out of 7 by defeating South Carolina and Vanderbilt despite outscored from the bench, they paid a severe price when Kentucky whipped them 87-72 at Walton with the Wildcats' bench outscoring Arkansas' reserves a whopping 38-5.
So even with senior starting guards Jaylen Barford and Macon and freshman center Daniel Gafford excelling in avenging an early-season, 88-77 loss at Auburn with Tuesday's 91-82 Senior Night triumph at Walton, Anderson points to his bench outscoring Alabama's bench, 22-11 and outscoring Auburn's bench, 40-25 as the team's biggest improvement post Kentucky.
Generally, the bench seems Arkansas biggest improvement since starting the SEC 1-3 with its bench outscored 4 out of 4.
"We've gotten better from the standpoint that I think our bench has developed," Anderson said. "I think guys are really starting to come on for us."
Anderson sees the rotating forwards that start with 6-8 senior Dustin Thomas but also utilize 6-8 senior Arlando Cook, 6-8 blue-collar freshman Gabe Osabuohien and 6-7 sophomore leaper Adrio Bailey as knowing their roles and likewise for Trey Thompson, the 6-9 senior alternating with Gafford and sometimes complementing the freshman in tandem.
For scoring, sophomore guard C.J. Jones, has hit 8 of his last 12 shots, including 5 of 6 3-pointers, and had scored 13 against Texas A&M before failing to score during Arkansas' bench breakdown against Kentucky.
Meanwhile 6-6 freshman guard Darious Hall has factored significantly energizing defensively, offensively and on the boards.
Significantly outscoring the opposition bench obviously is a major factor in a bench's success, but it's not the only factor.
Thompson missed his only shot against Alabama, but Anderson asserted, "Look at his stats, man! Five assists and seven rebounds and he blocked a shot. I don't think he even scored a point but he had a big impact on the game."
Sports on 03/03/2018
Print Headline: Hogs hope to throw the bench at Mizzou