For starters, look to see Jacorey Williams and Jabril Durham back at it, opening for Arkansas in Saturday night’s 7:30 game with Southeast Missouri State at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
Williams, the 6-8 junior forward, drew his first start in three Razorbacks season when Arkansas defeated Dayton, 69-55, last Saturday at Walton Arena.
First-year junior college transfer point guard Durham had started one early-season game and otherwise came off the bench before coach Mike Anderson started him against Dayton.
Williams — vital off the bench in Arkansas’ 6-0 start — and Durham both started well in helping the 7-2 Hogs snap a two-game skid from road losses at Iowa State and Clemson to dash Dayton, a NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team last March advancing all the way to its regional final.
Durham nailed a 3-pointer to open the game and ultimately scored nine points with two rebounds and two assists vs. two turnovers in 25 minutes.
Williams in 20 minutes scored six points with six rebounds, three steals and four assists vs. two turnovers.
Both were especially prominent when the Hogs grounded Dayton’s Flyers with a 40-23 first half.
“That first half we had 15 field goals on 12 assists,” Anderson said during his Monday night radio show at Sassy’s Red House restaurant. “Jacorey Williams, who was put into that starting lineup, he had three of those assists. We talk about guys playing efficient minutes and being productive with the minutes they get. We see Jacorey go out and get six points, four assist, six rebounds and a bunch were offensive rebounds. I like what he brought to the table.”
Ditto for Durham.
“Jabril Durham came out and made a shot and got his confidence going,” Anderson said. “I thought he did a good job orchestrating what was taking place out on the floor. Jabril Durham, he really set the stage for that particular game.”
So, don’t be surprised to see them start against SEMO?
“Without a doubt,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to see those guys come out. Dayton is a very good basketball team and starting out with a guy like Jacorey, it seemed like we had more balance.”
Arkansas assistant coach Matt Zimmerman marvels at Williams third-year emergence from the often too hyper borderline out of control player in games and do the bare minimum but no more in practice player the last two years to replacing the graduated Kikko Haydar as the Razorbacks’ relentless gym rat.
“To see him take Kikko’s spot on being in the gym more than anyone, I thought, ‘No way!” Zimmerman said. “But he’s done it. That’s what is helping him grow as a basketball player and that’s why he is helping the team right now.”
Starting Williams and Durham seemed to prod displaced starters Alandise Harris and Ky Madden with a motivational spur.
Senior forward Harris, a Little Rock Central alum fired up to be returning to his home area Saturday night along with sophomore Little Rock Hall alum Bobby Portis, Anderson said, contributed five points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in 20 minutes against Dayton.
Senior guard Madden of Lepanto via East Poinsett County High, hit 8 of 8 free throws and was Arkansas’ second-leading scorer with 12 points against Dayton.
Portis led with 18. Anderson stressed game-long to find Portis after believing the Hogs overlooked their mealticket losing a 6-point lead in the final 1:17 of regulation in the 68-65 overtime loss at Clemson.
“You saw the ball move side to side and start inside with Bobby,” Anderson said Monday. “He had some spot-up shots. The key is getting the ball to him on time. When we have multiple guys making the right pass, I always say the best pass may be the sequel to the pass that is the assist.”
Nate Allen is a syndicated reporter and columnist who has covered University of Arkansas sports for over 40 years. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Baxter Bulletin. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.