FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson knows guard B.J. Young can score.
Anderson also is confident he can count on Marshawn Powell to be a presence in the post offensively when he stays out of foul trouble.
But after his team averaged just 53.5 points in its first two conference games against Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, Anderson said it’s clear the duo can’t carry the scoring load alone through the 18-game schedule. They need some help from teammates.
“We’ve got to have a third scorer and a fourth scorer,” Anderson said. “Our team has been built a lot on balance, so we’ve got to have some guys to really step up.”
Anderson is hoping some of those other options begin to emerge when the Razorbacks play Auburn in Bud Walton Arena at 7 tonight. Arkansas (10-5, 1-1 in SEC) — which beat Vanderbilt 56-33 last Saturday to even its SEC record — is trying to win its second straight home game against the surprising Tigers (8-7, 2-0).
Finding better balance offensively will be important after Powell and Young accounted for 31 points in Arkansas’ win against the Commodores. They were a combined 14-for-22 shooting (63.6 percent). The rest of the team scored 25 points and shot 26.7 percent (8 of 30) in beating Vanderbilt.
It was enough in a low-scoring win, but Powell said it’s clear finding other consistent scorers has been an issue. He (14.3 points) and Young (17.1 points) are the only Arkansas players averaging more than 7.5 points a game this season.
There has been a bigger dip in SEC play. Young (13.5 points) and Powell (8.5) — who went scoreless in the SEC opener at Texas A&M after falling into early foul trouble — are the only players averaging more than five points in conference play.
“It would take us from being — what are we, 10-5 — to probably winning 13 or 14 games,” Powell said when asked what having other consistent scoring threats would have meant for the Razorbacks. “But I feel like we have that. I mean, we’ve just got to bring it out of certain guys. We’ve got to give them confidence, I guess.”
The most obvious option is Wade, who was the team’s second-leading scorer last season after averaging 10.8 points a game. But Wade has struggled to find confidence in his shot this season, leaving his average to dip to 7.4 points a game.
The guard — who was relegated to the bench throughout the second half of the Vanderbilt win — said confidence is key to getting on track.
“I think that just comes in practice, just giving us confidence,” Wade said. “Putting the ball in those guys’ hands more in practice and just letting them play their game.
“So I think we’ve got to do that a little more. Let them feel a little more free out there. So hopefully, once that gets going, their confidence will get going.”
Powell also believes Mickelson (7.4 points a game) and Coty Clarke (6.8 points a game) are capable options to help the Razorbacks with scoring in the post. He believes Mickelson, especially, needs to do a better job of getting involved.
“We’ve got to do a better job of giving Hunter confidence and letting him work,” Powell said. “But also Hunter has to do a better job of demanding the ball. If you want the ball and you feel like you want the ball, don’t just sit there with your hand … demand it. ‘Give me the ball.’ And make good things happen when you do get it.”
Arkansas’ inability to find other scorers has been reflected in their production the past two games. The point totals have been its lowest of the season.
The 51 points at Texas A&M also was the lowest under Anderson and worst since the 2010-11 season, when the Razorbacks scored 43 points in a loss to Florida under former coach John Pelphrey. The 56 points is tied with Arkansas’ third-lowest under Anderson, equaling a performance in last year’s win against Auburn.
Anderson said he’s not alarmed about the scoring struggles if the Razorbacks continue to win behind strong defense. He admitted, though, the Razorbacks do aspire to reach the 70- and 80-point mark consistently in his up-tempo system.
It’s hard to do that with no one outside of Young and Powell scoring on a nightly basis. But he’s confident it can change as the Razorbacks aim for another home win.
“We have guys that are capable,” Anderson said. “It’s just a matter of going out and doing it on a consistent basis and that’s what we’re trying to find — consistency.”
Auburn (8-7) at Arkansas (10-5)
• When: 7 p.m. today
• Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville
• TV/Radio: SEC Network (KATV-7)/KABZ-FM 103.7
• Series: Arkansas leads 28-16; last meeting Arkansas 77, Auburn 71 on Feb. 25