Four seasons ago former North Little Rock shooting guard KeVaughn Allen, the 2014 Gatorade player of the year in the state, spurned Arkansas in favor of the Florida Gators. The way he’s played against the Razorbacks one would think it was Mike Anderson that rejected him. In his six outings vs. Arkansas Allen has averaged 15.5 points per game. In 2018 he put up 39 points on the Hogs in two games and pumped in 25 in his Bud Walton Arena appearance in 2017.
“KeVaughn, he had a big game the last time they played here so I’m sure he’s looking forward to the homecoming,” Anderson acknowledged.
Allen admitted he’s happy to be going back to play a game in his home state but not because of the opponent.
“It’s always good to go there and play,” Allen told the Florida media earlier this week. “Just knowing that my family and friends will be there to see me play and knowing that they’re not able to come to every game in Gainesville.”
He also claimed that he has no extra motivation to play Arkansas.
“It’s the same,” Allen said of his mindset going into Wednesday night’s game in Fayetteville. “Just go out there and do what coach tells me to do. Don’t be emotional or get out of character. Just play the same way.”
Florida will limp into Fayetteville with an 8-5 record. Allen is the Gators’ leading scorer at just 10.3 points per game and his inconsistent play has left head coach Mike White scratching his head. In Saturday’s 71-69 last second home loss to South Carolina Allen scored 10 first half points but proceeded to play the next 19 minutes without attempting a shot.
“Is that baffling?” the Gators head coach was asked.
“Yes,” White admitted. “I can’t explain it. I love him. Talked to him about it again yesterday. He’s very talented. He got off to a really good start. He’s hard to guard when he’s playing aggressive and confident. He’s really good and we’re much better for it. We all see it. You see it. I see it. His teammates see it. I don’t know how to channel it. I don’t.”
Allen’s lack of aggressiveness has become a team problem according to White who said that all he can do is keep preaching to his players and showing them game video examples of when and how it happens.
“Watching the clock,” White explained. “You see it in certain games. Timid, especially with a lead, about making a mistake as opposed to continuing to do what we were doing to get us the lead. You can’t be afraid to turn the ball over. You can’t be afraid to make a mistake late in games. You got to play with the same aggression, mentality and confidence level that you played early on in the game when we had a nice offensive rhythm.”
Allen has used playing Arkansas to come out of slumps before but the only current Razorback who has been around long enough to see it didn’t really want to talk about his success against the Hogs.
“What do ya’ll look for out of him and the emphasis to slow him down?” a reporter asked Adrio Bailey in the team’s pre-Florida press conference.
“I ain’t worried about him,” Bailey said with a chuckle. “I ain’t worried about him.”
If that quote reaches Allen and his teammates before game time hopefully they won’t use it as motivation to play confident basketball for 40 minutes against Arkansas. Allen has shown on multiple occasions the damage he can do to the Razorbacks when he’s aggressive.