Williams musters much-needed energy in Hog comeback versus Auburn

Seven points on the stat sheet for Jaylin Williams on Wednesday night didn’t jump off the page but the freshman’s timely contributions and second-half minutes were essential for the Razorbacks in their 19-point comeback versus Auburn.

Connor Vanover got the start against the Tigers but the 7-foot-3 big man went 1-3 in his nine minutes played as the group all together got behind by 19–12 points going into the half. Williams shot once and scored once in the first half but his inside defensive presence and effort got him the second half start.

“He’s one of the most talkative guys, and I feel like he did was he was supposed to do tonight,” leading scorer Desi Sills said of Williams after the game. “Coach started him (in the second half) because he was doing everything in the first half to help us win.”

Playing 20 minutes in the second half, he hit a three-pointer less than three minutes in (only his fifth make of the season) and he slammed down a putback that gave Arkansas their first lead of the game, setting the fans in Bud Walton ablaze.

“When it comes down to it he just wants to do what’s best for the team.” senior Jalen Tate said. “Seeing him able to take that open shot and make that open shot is going to make teams guard him different, which is going to do even more for his confidence because he’s going to continue to make plays.

“That one-hand dunk was literally one of the most hype moments I’ve ever seen in person. Especially coming from a freshman. The timing of it was perfect. Did great things for our momentum during the game at that point. Definitely was a huge pickup for all of us.”

With Williams playing like he has, it should be no surprise to see him make the cut when Musselman shortens the rotation like he said he will going forward.

“He just wants to play minutes, and so I think he’s done a good job with his shot selection.” Musselman said post-game. “For a freshman big to play an entire 20 minutes, that’s not easy. I’m going to shorten our rotation unless we stink, and I’m just going to continue to try to draw straws and put people in.”

As for the greenlight to shoot his shot, Williams has it.

“I actually said to him the other day, ‘Hey, if you’re open, we want you to shoot it. We don’t want you to just be a ball swinger,'” Musselman said. “So hopefully with his feet set, we see it every day in practice that he’s a really good shooter, and I think he’s improved from a consistency standpoint from three as well.

The Razorbacks are due to head to Vanderbilt for a Saturday early afternoon tipoff. The Commodores had to postpone their midweek game due to COVID-19 protocols. They are 0-4 in conference play and 4-6 on the season.

Published: 2021-01-21 15:59:59

Tags: #Williams #musters #muchneeded #energy #Hog #comeback #Auburn


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