FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Mike Anderson and the Razorbacks were confident they were close to figuring out how to win on the road last week.
But after a 75-54 loss at South Carolina on Saturday, which was the program’s worst of the season, it’s pretty clear Arkansas still has a long way to go.
Anderson spoke about the latest road bump two days after the loss during the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference. It dropped Arkansas to 0-6 in games played outside the state this season and 1-16 overall under Anderson.
“We got off to a good start against South Carolina, but once they made their run back, we didn’t necessarily panic, but we didn’t answer the call,” Anderson said in reference to Arkansas’ 15-3 lead in the opening minutes of the game.
“The bleeding started and we didn’t stop the bleeding.”
So Arkansas (12-7, 3-3 in SEC) traveled home with a loss that wiped out any momentum built by a 96-70 home win against Mississippi State earlier in the week. It also places Arkansas in another difficult position: The Razorbacks go back on the road again Thursday to play against an Alabama (12-7, 4-2 in SEC) team 3-0 at home in conference play so far this season.
It’s also a place Arkansas hasn’t enjoyed success in some time. The Razorbacks are 5-18 in Coleman Coliseum and have lost on their last five trips. Arkansas’ last win in the building came in 2006-07, when former coach Stan Heath’s team won 63-57.
Anderson believes turning it around will take more effort from his Hogs, who have looked like different teams on the road and at home under his guidance.
“The intensity we played with in that game was certainly different,” Anderson said about the South Carolina loss. “Our energy level has got to rise up to another level. How do you do that? Maybe introduce some of the young guys off our bench that can bring that energy and intensity that you have to play with.”
Arkansas got only nine points from its bench during the South Carolina loss, which came a few days after the reserves tallied 60 against Mississippi State. Coty Clarke (seven points) and Mardracus Wade (two) were the only players to score.
But consistency all across the roster on offense has been the biggest problem on the road so far this season. The Razorbacks are second in the SEC in scoring, averaging 78.3 points a game. But they’re averaging just 56.3 in their three SEC road games.
Anderson said Arkansas better find a way to get past the mental hurdle soon.
“It should be a point where they all come together and really kind of galvanize and say, ‘Hey, we control this here,’” Anderson said. “I think that’s where the leadership, and the ownership has to take place. To me some of the biggest feats are when you go on the road and really take what you do in practice and take what you do at home and go on the road and get it done. But the only way you’ve got to do it is you’ve got to go do it and you’ve got to go do it.
“With that being said, I think sometimes the leadership and it’s going to start with the head coach. What kind of tone. What kind of mindset your kids are in. But above anything else, they’ve got to go and get it done for the most part.”
Madden will return
Anderson said guard Ky Madden’s suspension for a violation of team rules will end after one game.
Madden was not with the team during loss at South Carolina. But Anderson said Madden will be back with the team when the Razorbacks play at Alabama.
Madden started in place of guard B.J. Young during Arkansas’ 96-70 win against Mississippi State last Wednesday. The sophomore tallied 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 2 steals in 21 minutes during his first start in eight games. Young returned to the starting lineup at South Carolina with Madden’s suspension.
Anderson did not specify which team rule Madden broke to receive the one-game suspension. But Arkansas is glad to have him back as it tries to shake off its latest disappointment on the road.
“We played really well against Mississippi State,” Anderson said during Monday’s SEC Teleconference. “Ky was big in that. We had some adversity from the standpoint that he is not there (at South Carolina).”
NCAA RPI rankings
Arkansas fell from No. 83 to No. 94 in this week’s NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings. It’s good for eighth among SEC teams.
The Razorbacks’ loss at South Carolina (No. 193 in RPI) played a part in the Arkansas tumble. Arkansas’ three SEC wins have come against Vanderbilt (No. 115), Auburn (No. 210) and Mississippi State (No. 222).
Arkansas will get a chance to gain some ground in the next week with games against Alabama (No. 63), Tennessee (No. 79) and Florida (No. 5).