Usually when people think of the University of Arkansas, the first thing that comes to their mind is their football program and motorcycle accidents. As of last Tuesday night, people are now thinking about their basketball program. After losing to Florida in overtime on January 11th, Arkansas bounced back to beat 13th ranked Kentucky 87-85 in overtime at home. The Razorbacks didn’t start off their SEC play well, losing two straight to Texas A&M and Florida, but then they notched their first SEC win against Kentucky. That loss to Arkansas was the first SEC loss by the Wildcats this season. It was all due to sophomore Michael Qualls’ put-back dunk with less than a second left that propelled the Razorbacks to victory.
Before conference games started this season, Arkansas was 11-2. What’s the secret to their success? A talented freshmen class and great coaching by Mike Anderson. The Razorback coach has these players playing as a team. They’re 15th in the nations in points per game (84.7) and 20th in assists per game (16.4). No one is selfish (the leading scorer has only 13 points per game) and leaders are stepping up (Coty Clarke is just one of five seniors on the team). As for the freshmen class, Bobby Portis is second on the team in points per game with 12.4. He is also the leader in rebounds with 6.6 per game. Nowadays if you’re a freshman and you’re not playing well, everyone looks down on you. The level of expectations for playing as a freshman has been set at an all-time high with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker on the scene. Portis is helping this Razorback team in so many ways. Michael Qualls and Rashad Madden are slowly turning into superstars at Arkansas and they are making these Razorbacks fun to watch. Look out for these guys come February and March, because they have bracket buster written all over them.