FAYETTEVILLE - More defense from everybody and offensively less reliance on Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford comprise Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson’s recalibrating off his Razorbacks successive SEC road losses at Mississippi State and Auburn.
The Razorbacks, 11-4 overall and 1-2 in the SEC, next play Wednesday night hosting the LSU Tigers, 10-4, 1-1, in an 8 p.m. SEC Network televised game at Walton Arena.
Combining for 61 points, Macon, 33, and Barford, 28, carried Arkansas to a 98-95 overtime season-opening victory over Tennessee on Dec. 30 at Walton while logging 25 and 41 minutes.
That formula got the Hogs by Tennessee but Barford and Macon logging 38 and 37 minutes caught up to them defensively in the 78-75 loss to Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Anderson said, noting Macon’s 38 minutes against Auburn affected him in all phases of Arkansas’ 88-77 loss Saturday in Auburn, Ala.
“One message I’ve got to get to our guys is we’ve got to get defensive,” Anderson said at his Monday press conference at Walton Arena. “Defensive-minded. That’s got to be the adjective. Getting stops and creating havoc on defense. That’s going to be our aim as we get ready to play this game.”
More defense means employing more fresh bodies, Anderson said, and fewer minutes but more quality time for Macon and Barford, the coach hopes, because his seniors presumably then would play more refreshed.
“It’s not going to be a 1-2 punch, not just Daryl and Barford,” Anderson said. “Our bench is very, very important. I said all year long it’s got to be, it’s going to be, the difference in how this team can be. So we’ve got to continue to build this bench and really play much better in SEC play.”
For Arkansas’ three SEC games, Macon averages 38.7 minutes while Barford averages 35.3 while fellow senior starting guard and North Little Rock High grad Anton Beard averages 32.3 minutes.
Sophomore guard C.J. Jones, averaging 16.9 minutes for all games but averaging only 8.7 minutes in three ineffective SEC games thus far, and freshman guard Darious Hall obviously need to help off the bench.
Hall looked stage fright afflicted in the SEC opener against Tennessee but played better in Starkville, Miss. and exceptionally at Auburn shooting 3 for 3 with seven points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
“Darious played really, really well,” Anderson said, noting “without a doubt” his use will increase.
“We know defensively he’s going to get after it,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Jones, a shooter mired in a shooting slump, must help as well.
However after a hot start, Jones hasn’t been effective since scoring 15 against Oral Roberts University back on Dec. 19.
Among the reserves forwards, Anderson was encouraged with the play of 6-7 sophomore Adrio Bailey, 6-8 senior Arlando Cook and Trey Thompson, the 6-9 senior from Madison and graduate of Forrest City High.
“We’ve got to get Trey in there getting eight (points) and six (rebounds) like he gave us,” Anderson said of the Auburn game. “It’s a great sign seeing Trey being more assertive. Cook came in and gave us quality minutes.”
Cook blocked two shots, grabbed five rebounds and scored four points during his 10 minutes at Auburn before sidelined by an ankle injury that has required treatment the last two days.
“He twisted his ankle pretty good so we’ll see,” Anderson said Monday regarding Cook’s availability against LSU.
Auburn burned 11 for 20 on 3-pointers against Arkansas. LSU arrives with leading scorer Tremont Waters hitting two late deep threes practically from a different area code to overcome Texas A&M, 69-68 last Saturday ind College Station, Texas and sports seven Tigers hitting threes from 38 percent or better.
“I think we've got to be there with them,” Anderson said of Arkansas’ perimeter defense Wednesday against LSU. “We've just got to be there with those shooters and make them drivers. To me its about defense having that third and fourth and fifth effort. That's what we've not been getting. But I'm really believing that our bench will help us solve that. You've got to have guys who are not tired, and we've been having some guys out there that are spent.”