FAYETTEVILLE - Possibly at the start, and almost guaranteed before the finish, Arkansas big men Moses Kingsley and Trey Thompson should simultaneously play for the Razorbacks in tonight’s SEC game against Mississippi State.
Arkansas, 12-3 overall and 1-2 in the SEC, and the visiting Bulldogs, 10-4, 1-1, tip off at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Walton Arena on the SEC Network.
Thompson, the 6-9 junior from Madison via Forrest City, has spent this season as the backup for 6-10 senior Kingsley, the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, but was employed in tandem with Kingsley during some of Arkansas’ better moments against nationally No. 6 Kentucky last Saturday.
The Razorbacks lost 97-71 but at half only trailed 41-38.
Kingsley tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot for his 33 minutes while Thompson in 20 minutes scored four points, grabbed four rebounds, dished two assists, blocked two shots and “really helped the offense flow, Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said after last Saturday’s game in Lexington, Ky.
Asked about Thompson before the Razorbacks practiced for their Mississippi State game, Anderson said, “He gives us quality minutes when he’s on the floor. It just seems like his basketball IQ is very, very good. He rebounds the basketball. He got two big offensive rebounds in the last game. When he’s out there, you know his presence. It gives us a little size.”
And more offense than his stats show, especially if he’s becomes less reticent to show it.
“He’s got a nice shot,” Anderson said. “He’s got to be able to go ahead and shoot it and shoot with confidence.”
On pairing Thompson with Kingsley rather than just relieving Kingsley, Anderson said, “We did that the other night and I think we saw a big difference.”
The Razorbacks saw a big difference in themselves in their gutty first half against Kentucky but saw it wasted as the Wildcats took second-half command while all but taking Arkansas junior guard Jaylen Barford out of the game.
Barford scored 14 first-half points off the bench but scored zip in a second half during which he played but five minutes because of foul trouble including a controversial technical foul that got the Kentucky crowd on Barford and Barford additionally foul troubled and off his game.
“I’m still wondering what he did to earn the technical foul,” Anderson said of Barford entangled Kentucky guard Isaiah Bruce as Bruce had fallen trying to take a charge. “But he’s got to learn from that. Even as you play with the four fouls, three fouls, whatever, you continue to do what you do.”