Arkansas needed a spark from somewhere, after struggling with energy and execution against UTSA, and received it in the form of true freshman power forward Reggie Chaney.
Chaney came off the bench to be a revolution for the Razorbacks on offense and defense on Saturday night, running the floor and finishing at the basket as well as protecting the rim and guarding all positions on the other end. In a career-high 28 minutes, Chaney did a little bit of everything, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and four steals.
Chaney wasn’t super productive offensively in the first half, scoring only one point, but his energy on the defensive end was contagious. Because of his high-level effort, Anderson gave him the chance to start over junior Adria Balley at the beginning of the second half, and Chaney repaid him with fantastic play.
Right out of the break, Chaney forced a jump ball and made a layup in transition. He later stole an inbounds pass and converted on another layup shortly after. Chaney continued to get out in the break and finish at the rim. On defense, not only did he emphatically swat three shots, he also switched onto UTSA’s best scoring guards on numerous occasions.
At 6-8, 222, Chaney has the frame to bang down low with post players as well as get in a stance and lockdown quicker guards. Because of this ability, Chaney was a nuisance to the Roadrunner guards. They couldn’t quite figure out Chaney in the second half despite willingly wanting the switch to happen.
The true freshman has shown this particular skill on a handful of occasions through the beginning of this season, even stepping out and blocking a shot around the 3-point line in the win over Colorado State. Arkansas point guard Jalen Harris has witnessed it many times in practice as well and has no reservations about the Razorbacks sticking Chaney on anybody out on the court.
Chaney received his extended opportunity on Saturday night not only because of his success but because of the struggles of Adria Balley at the power forward spot. After a surprisingly solid start to the year, specifically on offense, Bailey has struggled mightily in the past two games. In last weekend’s loss, Bailey failed to score and missed all four of his shot attempts. Against UTSA, Bailey wasn’t much better, finishing the game with only two points (1 of 5), four fouls and two turnovers.
Not only is Bailey having a hard time putting the ball in the hole, he hasn’t had that same energy that made him a valuable asset in the past. Because of this, Chaney’s been forced to fill that void and so far, he’s done it quite well. Chaney and the Razorback bench put up 26 points, compared to 12 from UTSA’s bench, a welcome sight after a rough game against WKU.
Sitting at 7-2, Arkansas now looks ahead to a home matchup with Georgia Tech on Wednesday night. Whether Chaney gets the starting nod over Bailey has yet to be seen, but regardless, his presence on both ends of the floor will certainly be vital to the Razorbacks as the 2018-19 season rolls on.