Needing The Young Of Old

BJ Young

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson talks about what is going on with star sophomore guard BJ Young, who has had just seven points in his last two outings heading into this Saturday's home game with Kentucky.

Any chance of Arkansas (17-11, 8-7) taking down visiting Kentucky (20-8, 11-4) in Saturday's nationally televised game and extending its home winning streak to 13 likely has to include a big performance from Razorback sophomore guard B.J. Young.

Young – who has been Arkansas' leading scorer the past two seasons - will be coming off his two statistically-worst back-to-back games with three points in a loss at Florida and then just four in Wednesday's 65-60 loss at LSU.

In those two games, Young was a combined 2-of-19 from the field – including 0-of-8 from 3-point range.

"People are just packing in on him," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said Thursday. "You have got to make shots. BJ puts a lot of pressure on himself to try to make plays. He's been making plays all of his life. I think there are times when you have got to defer and trust other guys.



"We saw that right before halftime (at LSU) when he penetrated and they packed it in and he kicked it to Mardracus (Wade) for a nice shot," Anderson added. "And he had some nice passes the second half of that game that guys kind of bobbled.

"But he has got to be able to knock shots down," Anderson continued. "That to me is different than last year. Last year he shot over 40 percent and this year he hasn't shot near what he is capable of shooting."

Young had a brilliant freshman campaign in which he averaged a team-best 15.3 points while shooting 50.4 percent (177-of-351) from the field and 41 percent (50-of-121) from 3-point range.

While averaging exactly that same 15.3 points this season, Young's numbers are certainly down shooting wise as he is currently shooting just 44.4 percent overall from the field (157-of-354) and just 21.9 percent (21-of-96) from beyond the arc.

He has been to the line 113 times in 27 games - the same amount of time he went to the FT line last season in 32 games, but is shooting just 68.1 percent from the stripe this season as opposed to 74.3 percent in 2011-2012.

"I keep saying it, a lot of times BJ puts a lot more pressure on himself than he needs to," Anderson said. "That's part of it. And as a coach, you try to take away those pressures and just let him go out and be a kid. He's 19 years old. Go out and play basketball and have fun. That's been my mindset with him from day one through last year, through this year. It will be the same. So hopefully he gets back to being BJ the happy go-lucky kid."

Young was 2-of-11 on Wednesday at LSU and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. He also had six of his team's season-high 19 turnovers in a game Arkansas rallied from 22 down, but couldn't finish at the end.

"I thought he was hesitant last night at particular times," Anderson said. "And shooting is confidence. It's all about confidence. It's like he is 0 for 4 last night, he can come out Saturday and go 4 for 5."

Young does have 99 assists – which is 26 more than he had last season and his turnovers are down from last season.

He has hit two-game winning shots against Missouri and Georgia this season and has always been Arkansas go-to guy in that situation the past two years.

"I think he's got to make the right play more than anything else," Anderson said. "Guys have been doing it. People are going to pack it in there now and you have to defer to make it OK. Let's let Marshawn (Powell) make that shot for us. And those guys have got to make the plays."

Young put his name in the NBA draft last season before deciding to return to Arkansas and play another season.

While still listed as a first-round pick by ESPN's Chad Ford, his stock has certainly plummeted from a first round lottery pick at the start of the season to the bottom of the first round currently.

"He's hearing a lot of different stuff from different people," Anderson said. "You've got to try to keep him grounded and stay in the now. I think you've got to stay in the now. Right now. You can't worry about the future because it may not even come. Just try to be the best player you can be.

"To his credit, I think he's come back and tried to really work on being a much more well-rounded player and I think some of the stats prove it," Anderson said. "Obviously, the glaring one is he is not shooting the ball with the efficiency he shot last year.

"And of course his role has changed, too," Anderson added. "And people are targeting him. That's a big part of it too. As they target you, that's where you have to trust in your teammates and those other teammates have got to make plays as well."

o o o

Anderson was lamenting his decision to not have played freshman guard Anthlon Bell more in the loss on Wednesday night.

Bell had scored 31 points in 36 minutes of action in his last two games while knocking down 9-of-18 3-pointers.

But he played just three minutes at LSU and missed his only shot. "I think it was more so that I probably screwed that up more than anything else," Andeson said. "He's been playing with a lot of confidence.

"We had some guys that were knocking some shots down early for us, Kikko (Haydar) was knocking some shots down early for us," Anderson added. "He got out there, Anthlon got out there, and I think it was a period where, boy, they just bombarded us. A lead that went from maybe nine points up to almost 18-20 points. So, but, you'll see him. You'll see him in the lineup. You'll see him playing."

o o o

Kentucky lost freshman center Nerlens Noel – the nation's leading shot blocker - to a season-ending injury and then promptly went out and lost at Tennessee 88-58.

But the Wildcats have won three straight homes games since that road loss and downed woeful Mississippi State 85-55 on Wednesday night.

It was the Bulldogs' 13th consecutive loss since winning their opening two SEC games.

O o o

The game will be televised nationally by CBS with Brian Anderson and Dave Bonner handling the play-by-play and analyst duties.

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