Arkansas Razorbacks

No. 1 North Carolina blows lead, but avoids upset from No. 8 Arkansas

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North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, blew a 17-point lead but fortunately had enough time to stave off an upset bid from No. 8 Arkansas.

The Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16 with a 72-65 win over the Razorbacks on Sunday night in Greenville, South Carolina.

Arkansas not only erased a double-digit deficit, it had the lead coming out of the last official timeout. However, it was North Carolina — not Mike Anderson’s 40 Minutes of Hell — that would clamp down defensively. Over the final 3:30 of regulation, and trailing 65-62, the Tar Heels held the Razorbacks without a single point.

Not to take credit from North Carolina’s execution down the stretch, but the defense was aided by several bad possessions by Arkansas. This game was not without controversy, as well.

With 50 seconds remaining, Joel Berry II collided with two Razorbacks as he drove to the basket. The help-side defender appeared to have drawn a charge. Or, perhaps the primary defender got Berry on the arm. And maybe, Berry traveled after making contact. There were three options for the officials to make the call instead, they swallowed their whistles. Berry threw a dart off the backboard which Kennedy Meeks tipped in to put the Tar Heels up 68-65.

North Carolina ran out to a 17-point lead in the first half due to mistakes by Arkansas and owning the offensive glass. The Tar Heels have arguably the best rebounding team in the country, while the Razorbacks allow opponents to corral 34 percent of their missed shots according to kenpom. North Carolina came down with 14 offensive rebounds in the first half. In the second half, Arkansas reversed that trend and kept the Tar Heels to one shot as it began its comeback effort.

Arkansas defense flummoxed North Carolina, holding the Tar Heels to 38 percent shooting and 29 percent from three. Berry and Justin Jackson combined to shoot 7-of-27 from the field.

Meeks led the team with 16 points, followed by Jackson’s 15. Daryl Macon had 19 points off the bench in a losing effort.

North Carolina will play No. 4 seed Butler next week in the Sweet 16 in Memphis.

Beard set to make return to action for Arkansas after arrest

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas point guard Anton Beard will make his return to the court on Saturday after missing the season’s first nine games following a summer arrest on forgery charges.

Beard, named to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman team last season for the Razorbacks (5-4), was arrested in July after Fayetteville police said he was seen using and exchanging counterfeit $20 and $50 bills.

He entered a pre-trial diversion program last month in an attempt to avoid prosecution, and Saturday’s game in North Little Rock with Mercer (8-2) will mark the end of his semester-long suspension.

“He feels grateful to have the opportunity still to be here,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “I am sure there are a lot of things he wants to correct. How do you correct that? By going out and doing the right thing. So, it’s a life lesson for him.”

Beard averaged 5.8 points in 18.9 minutes per game last season for the Razorbacks, who were 27-9 and finished runner-up in the SEC. He started the season’s final 16 games, including a pair in the NCAA Tournament, and he shot 35.2 percent on 3-pointers while also averaging a steal per game.

The 6-foot point guard wasn’t made available to speak publicly before his season debut, but Anderson said he’s been practicing with the Razorbacks for the last two weeks in preparation for his first game.

Arkansas has struggled at times this season to replace last season’s SEC Player of the Year, Bobby Portis, as well as second-leading scorer Michael Qualls. The Razorbacks were 2-3 following a pair of losses to Georgia Tech and Stanford in New York, but they have won three of four games since.

Without Beard, point guard Jabril Durham has flourished while averaging a team-high 30.8 minutes per game. The senior is second in the country with an average of 8.1 assists per game, and he’s also averaging nearly two steals per game.

Anderson said while Beard’s return will cut into Durham’s minutes somewhat, he expects both to become more efficient with their play – and that the two are likely to see action at the same time as Arkansas tries to extend its winning streak to three games.

“He’s not the savior,” Anderson said of Beard. “He’s just going to be a guy that’s going to come in and try to get back into the rhythm of things, because right now our guys are playing at a pretty good level.”

Arkansas lands four-star junior college forward Arlando Cook

Associated Press
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One week after announcing that he’d de-committed from Nevada, one of the top junior college prospects in the Class of 2016 has decided to play his college basketball in the SEC.

6-foot-9 power forward Arlando Cook, currently a sophomore at Connors State College in Oklahoma, announced via Twitter Thursday afternoon that he will sign with Arkansas when the early signing period begins later this month. Cook averaged 11.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a freshman, and his commitment is an important one for a program that currently lack front court depth.

Cook joins fellow forward Adrio Bailey in Arkansas’ 2016 recruiting class to date. The Razorbacks took a hit to their front court options during the summer as it was announced that Ted Kapita was not cleared to join the program. Originally expected to attend prep school and join Arkansas in 2016, Kapita wound up signing on with the ill-fated AmeriLeague whose CEO was none other than convicted con man Glendon Alexander (he went by the name of Cerruti Brown in this endeavor).

That took Kapita out of the equation, and with Kennesaw State transfer Willy Kouassi being in his final season of eligibility Mike Anderson and his staff had some significant holes to address in their front court rotation. Current juniors Moses Kingsley and Dustin Thomas (Colorado transfer; sitting out this season) will be available in 2016-17 as will redshirt freshman Trey Thompson.

But Arkansas needed another option, especially one who can hit the ground running and be a key contributor immediately. Cook’s verbal pledge takes care of this issue.

Arkansas lands three-star Class of 2016 forward

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Arkansas picked up its third commitment in the Class of 2016 as three-star forward Adrio Bailey pledged to the Razorbacks.

A native of Louisiana, the 6-foot-7 Bailey took his official visit to Arkansas over the weekend and becomes the first high school player to commit in the current Razorback class.

Highly-touted junior college guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon currently make up head coach Mike Anderson’s recruiting class and Bailey gives them some much-needed size. A forward with developing wing skills, Bailey can play above the rim and he’s also versatile enough to make plays all over the floor. With the way Arkansas plays, it should be a good fit for Bailey’s strengths.

Arkansas lands talented JUCO guard

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Just days before he was scheduled to take an official visit to Louisville, one of the top guards in the junior college ranks has decided to play in the SEC.

Motlow State College combo guard Jaylen Barford committed to Arkansas Tuesday night, with the news first reported by Brad Winton of JucoRecruiting.com. The 6-foot-3 Barford averaged 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game while shooting better than 52 percent from the field.

Barford is the second junior college guard that Mike Anderson and his staff have reeled in for the 2016 class, joining Darryl Macon. The Razorbacks have three seniors in their backcourt for the 2015-16 season, with junior Dusty Hannahs and freshmen Jimmy Whitt and Lorenzo Jenkins being the guards with eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming campaign.

Arkansas is also one of the schools in hot pursuit of one of the top high school players in the Class of 2016 in Bentonville’s Malik Monk. The electrifying Monk is also considering Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon, and his official visit to Arkansas is scheduled for the weekend of October 24.

 

Three-star forward will decide between three

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One of the July evaluation period’s biggest stock risers, Arkansas native Eric Curry, will decide between three schools this week, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Little Rock will pick this week between Arkansas, Iowa State and Minnesota. Playing with the Arkansas Wings in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer, Curry averaged 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game playing on a very balanced team.

Over the summer, Curry showed an improved skill set and he has the capability of being a versatile forward at the next level thanks to his athleticism. While Curry has to improve his perimeter game in order to play on the wing, he has the quickness to be a matchup problem if he can add that to his repertoire.

Currently regarded as the No. 141 overall prospect in the Rivals150, Curry is coming off of a recent official visit to in-state Arkansas and the Razorbacks are hoping to keep Curry home.

Minnesota also hosted Curry for an official visit during the process and the Golden Gophers have some recruiting momentum after adding four-star in-state guard Amir Coffey this week.

Iowa State’s official visit was sandwiched in between the trips to Minnesota and Arkansas and the Cyclones are trying to find a suitable replacement for the versatility of senior forward Georges Niang.