FAYETTEVILLE - Oklahoma’s Trae Young sports the stats and the national rep but he shouldn’t have Arkansas’ vote as the nation’s best freshman point guard.
A double dose of LSU’s Tremont Waters should have the Razorbacks unanimously voting for him if they had a ballot to cast.
Young certainly impressed against Arkansas back on Nov. 23 at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore. Young scored 28 points, including 4 of 9 treys and 8 of 9 free throws, and dished five assists but Arkansas won the game, 92-83.
Waters swept Arkansas home and home. Considering the Razorbacks this season haven’t lost before or since at Walton Arena, Waters led the Tigers to an unfathomably easy, 75-54 SEC victory Jan. 10 in Fayetteville.
Last Saturday at LSU’s Maravich Center in Baton Rouge, La. Waters flowed again over Arkansas leading LSU’s 94-86 triumph.
At Fayetteville, Waters led LSU’s charge despite seldom firing an accurate shot. Waters only connected 3 of 10 from the field, 0 for 4 on treys, and just 2 of 5 from the line.
Nevertheless the unimposing looking 5-11 guard proved the biggest player of the game. He dished eight official assists and unofficially assisting so many others penetrating and creating what are called “hockey assists,” the assists before the defense.
He must have played some defense, too. Arkansas hit but 19 of 57 shots.
In Baton Rouge, Arkansas’ offense was back on track. Arkansas exceeded 80 points, an output achieving 30 consecutive Razorbacks victories whenever scoring that many.
LSU needed Waters shooting to have a shot. He shot Arkansas to pieces. Waters hit 7 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 9 treys plus 9 for 10 from the line, to score 27 points, the game high and his SEC. And he facilitated better than ever dishing 11 assists.
Four Tigers scored from 13 to 16 points
“I thought Waters did a good job of getting his guys in position to score,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought he did a good job of navigating and getting the ball to the right people.”
And shooting which Waters said he recently hadn’t done well noted by making but 3 of his last 21 3-point attempts before Saturday’s game.
It seems Arkansas’ defense is the feel good tonic for ailing 3-point shooters. Florida’s KeVaughn Allen, the North Little Rock High grad, was in a woeful shooting slump before hitting 6 of 7 treys keying the Gators’ 88-73 SEC success over Arkansas on Jan. 17 in Gainesville, Fla.
Texas A&M’s DJ Hogg had hit just 1 one of his last 13 3-point attempts before his flurry of early second-half threes accelerated the Aggies from a 33-32 intermission lead to an easy 80-66 SEC success over Arkansas on Jan. 30 in College Station, Texas.
LSU hit an astounding 15 of 30 treys on Arkansas in Baton Rouge.
“We gave them a lot of open looks,” Arkansas senior guard Daryl Macon said postgame. “It’s not hard to make a shot when you get a lot of open looks like that, and this is the gym they shoot in every day.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks too often didn’t get to where they were supposed to be.
“We were supposed to keep them off the line and we were supposed to be with the guys that can shoot the basketball,” Anderson said. “I didn’t think we got all the way out to the shooters.”
Some of that stemmed from getting out-hustled to the ball, Anderson said.
“There were so many loose balls that we had with opportunity to get the ball and go score, and they got it and guess what?” Anderson said. “It led to an open three for them and they knocked it down.”
Arkansas did get the scoring boost from its big men in Baton Rouge it didn’t get in College Station. Forwards Daniel Gafford, Trey Thompson,Dustin Thomas and Arlando Cook combined for but seven points against the Aggies.
With Forrest City High grad Thompson scoring a season-high 11, they and sophomore forward Adrio Bailey, not used against A&M, combined for 36 points in Baton Rouge.
Anderson acknowledged them improving offensively but lamented: “How about defense? That’s what I’m looking for.”
There’s much to do and little time to do it for these 15-8 overall, 4-6 in the SEC Hogs. The South Carolina Gamecocks come 6 p.m. on ESPN2 Tv Tuesday to Walton.
“We just have get back to doing those things consistently for 40 minutes that enabled us to win 15 games” Anderson said. “We have to get back and protect the home court.”