Texas A&M beat Arkansas 69-51 in the SEC opener on Wednesday at Reed Arena.
No Time To Panic
That was the word from Arkansas head basketball coach Mike Anderson Thursday afternoon during his press conference after his team's embarrassing 69-51 loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
"The one thing, we're not going to panic," Anderson said. "I know that. I mean, if you look at the progress this team has made up until this point, we're going in the right direction. We took a step back. So, with that being said, I've got to make sure that the things we continue to emphasize… They've got to hear it loud and clear.
"If you're going to be able to play, there's accountability when you're out on the floor," Anderson added. "(Junior guard) Mardracus (Wade) cannot play 27 minutes and not get a rebound. I mean, that's just, that's unheard of. That being said, there's accountability. So I will hold them accountable. But at the same time, let's understand it's not panic time. That's the first game of the (SEC) season. There's a lot of basketball to be played."
The season will indeed continue on Saturday at 5 p.m. when the Razorbacks (9-5) host Vanderbilt (6-6) at Bud Walton Arena.
The Commodores lost to visiting Kentucky 60-58 on Thursday night.
"Most teams, they defend their home turf," Anderson said. " That's what they do. So now we get a chance to hopefully defend our home turf. And there's going to be opportunities to go out on the road and steal some games and play well. And i know we're capable of playing a lot better, shooting the ball well."
Especially from the free throw line where Arkansas was a woeful 4-of-15 on Wednesday night as they continued what has been a unsuccessful decade on the road for the last three head coaches.
"With our young basketball team we have got to learn, especially on the road, that you have got to put the ball in the hole," Anderson said. "You have got to make free throws. When you make free throws, the game changes and now we start to get those offensive rebounds that they got. The second half they kind of took the fight to us. We have got to be able to hit back. That's the biggest thing we have got to do."
Arkansas led 21-16 at Texas A&M with six minutes left in the first half only to fall behind 29-24 by intermission and then watch the Aggies complete a 15-0 run by scoring the first seven points of the second half.
"I just think it's the mental, the mental toughness has got to get there," Anderson said. "We've got to be a little more mentally tougher, especially when adversity takes place," Anderson said. "I think you find out a lot more about your team when adversity takes place.
"I thought for a while there our poise, when they came out in the second half and they hit us, I thought we kind of lost our poise," Anderson said. "You're talking about a lead that was five points, we come out on the first play and we stop them and they get an offensive rebound that leads to a shot."
The Aggies destroyed the Razorbacks on the boards to the tune of a 51-27 margin.
"Going into that game, that's all we've been emphasizing," Anderson said of rebounding. "Since the Michigan game, that's all we've been emphasizing. And so, for us to get to this point here, it's got to be emphasized even more. That is, the preparation that you have got to have the effort, the attitude, and rebounding is effort. Not only just that first effort, the second effort, the third effort."
There's very little doubt that Arkansas had to have a better effort from redshirt junior Marshawn Powell, who did not score, had four fouls and five turnovers and only two rebounds in arguably his worst performance as a Razorback.
"I think Marshawn will be fine," Anderson said. "I think it's just him getting back in the flow of things, and obviously he's a big part of what we do. I think it's going to be important for him to be out on the floor, and so with that being said, he's got to play through some of those situations. And then that's part of my doing, too; let him play through some of those. Getting some of those early fouls, he's got to play through it. Because I think it's important we have a guy we can go to, whether it be in the post or picking and popping.
"He's one of our most experienced forwards on our basketball team, so I think it's going to be important," Anderson said. " But hopefully he'll find his stride. He's been pretty good so far this year, and now the SEC play is here, we want him to be even better. I think he wants to, and I thought in the second half that's what you saw; he was trying too hard."
Anderson knows that last night's loss had people hurting themselves jumping off the bandwagon, but it did nothing to change his mindset of of getting into postseason play and his ultimate goal for the team.
"I just think in any year, that's what you look forward to," Anderson said of the postseason. "When we started the year, that's our goal and it still is our goal. I think, you know, certainly I made the statement to start the year, we want to be an elite program. We will be an elite program. And like I say, everything is a work in progress. We'll continue to work. It's going to happen."
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