FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – Whatever works.
The first Arkansas basketball game of the season was a win. It was an occasionally ugly, constantly foul-prone, somewhat defensive lapse-filled win. And, you know, that suits everyone just fine right now.
The Razorbacks beat Fort Wayne at Bud Walton Arena on Friday night, 92-83, with some timely spurts, a lot of balanced scoring and Dusty Hannahs.
Arkansas’ senior guard poured in 23 points on 7 of 17 shooting and surprisingly achieved it on just 1 of 6 from the 3-point line, his specialty. He scored six straight points just before the penultimate media timeout of the game, seconds after Fort Wayne had cut Arkansas’ lead to just four points, 67-63.
Truth is the Mastodons hung around the whole night. But that wasn’t unexpected as they’re the preseason favorites in the Summit League and Arkansas was breaking in five new players. It took until late in the first half before Arkansas gained a lead worthwhile, though once it did, Fort Wayne never got it back.
Arkansas (1-0) was called for 29 fouls and Fort Wayne another 24. Neither team shot better than 67 percent from the free throw line. And the Razorbacks gave up 21 offensive rebounds. Coach Mike Anderson has plenty with which to work going forward.
The beauty of the thing is, right now, it’s irrelevant. Arkansas simply needs to stockpile wins this nonconference season as they interject the new players into the lineup with old hands like Hannahs and preseason Player of the Year Moses Kingsley.
Accordingly, Friday night was good enough.
Player of the game
Anton Beard looked like the player from two seasons ago instead of last year on Friday. Note that’s a good thing.
His stat line doesn’t blow you away – 12 points (4 of 6 FG), a rebound, three assists, two steals – but it’s well-rounded and, really, as good any game he had last year. And when he picked a pocket, got a lay-up and followed with two free throws on the next possession with 4:41 left in the first half, it gave Arkansas the last lead it would need.
Stat line of the game
That’s Arkansas’ starting backcourt, which includes two newcomers. Not half bad.
An 18-4 run over five minutes near the end of the first half turned a Fort Wayne six-point lead into 48-40 one for the Razorbacks. Dusty Hannahs had eight of those points for Arkansas and Fort Wayne went a cool 1 for 12 from the floor in that span.
Until that point, the arena was on pins and needles. But when Moses Kingsley came out of the locker room at halftime with two straight strong buckets, the place seemed to let out a collective exhale.
What they said
Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman:
“That’s what Arkansas does. They just keep it on, keep it on and then hopefully over time it wears you out.”
Hannahs on his poor 3-point shooting night:
“They tell you not to worry about it and try not to worry about it. But it makes me sick. Especially free throws. Make me want to have an aneurysm sometimes”
Anderson on the rebound discrepancy:
“I saw some rebounds off the free throw, which is something our guys know that, if that takes place in a game, there’s probably going to be some suicides ran on that there. At the end of the day we made enough plays to get it done.”
Anderson on Kingsley’s low-scoring night:
“Moses, we’ve got to continue to feed him. Nobody could stop him. Only had nine points, didn’t get as many touches as I wanted him to get.”
Anderson on the fouls:
“We had some unnecessary fouls. Whether it be charging or not moving your feet. We’ve got to address that. A lot of our fouls were on offensive rebounds. We’ve got to do a much better job of putting bodies on people and going to get the basketball.”
Anderson on the old/new personnel mix:
“That’s what it’s supposed to be. I said early in the year, the core guys, the Manuale Watkins, the Dusty Hannahs, the Moses Kingsleys, Anton Beard … It’s those guys, those guys have got to show these other guys the way.”
Arkansas vs. Southern Illinois
Monday, 7 p.m.
Bud Walton Arena
The Salukis are picked to finish fifth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference.