FAYETTEVILLE--Back on January 26 the Razorbacks were looking for their first SEC road win of the season against a South Carolina team that was winless in conference play at home. Instead, after jumping to a big early lead, Arkansas was run out of The Colonial Center 75-54 in perhaps its most embarrassing loss of the season.
Saturday the Hogs will try once again to get that road monkey off their backs. Vanderbilt has lost five home games this season and four straight SEC games. If there is a road game left on Arkansas' schedule that looks winnable Vanderbilt appears to be it. Maybe, but Anderson doesn't want a repeat of the South Carolina disaster.
"They've (Vanderbilt) been, for the most part, in every game," Anderson warned. "They played Tennessee last week and I think they had a tip in to win the game on the road.
Of his team's 56-33 win over Vanderbilt on January 12th Anderson said, "Every game is different. You can't go on what took place in this game or that game."
Still the Razorbacks will invade Nashville coming off their most impressive win of the season, an 80-69 drubbing of No. 2 Florida, the Gators first SEC loss of 2013. Anderson concedes that some of the things which allowed his players to pull of the upset gives him confidence that they are ready to take their "A" game on the road.
"I've got about seven or eight starters now," Anderson claimed. "Right now those guys are really setting the tone from a defensive standpoint."
Just days ago it appeared that Anderson had five starters, period. But begining with the Alabama game the head Hog added increased playing time for newcomers Coty Clarke, Jacorey Williams and Michael Qualls. Qualls even earned a spot in the starting lineup and has responded with impressive back-to-back games.
Against Tennessee Qualls scored seven points and brought down 11 rebounds. In the Florida game he managed 11 points and four rebounds. Qualls says his increased offensive output was a result of playing better defense.
"I've just tried to take a role of being a lockdown defender," Qualls explained, "in trying to stop people from doing what they want to do and give coach the team that we need."
Anderson believes that added minutes has allowed Qualls, Clarke and Williams to relax more during their time on the floor. "They look a lot more comfortable," he noted. "Sometimes guys put a lot more pressure on themselves than they actually have to so it's good to see them out there having fun."
Arkansas surprising win over Florida can cut both ways as the players head toward another road test. They want to be confident but not overconfident especially considering their road struggles.
"We got the win and now we're trying to move on to the next one,' Sophomore guard B. J. Young stressed. "Go capitalize on the road and prove a point. We want to continue to build on things that we've done well and hopfully we can take this show on the road and get a win."
The Hogs and Commodores square off Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a game televised on the SEC Network.