Arkansas' Kingsley struggling to regain his offensive touch
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Moses Kingsley emerged from the shadow of former teammate Bobby Portis to become one of the top players in the Southeastern Conference last season.
This year, the Arkansas center - the preseason SEC Player of the Year - has struggled to adapt to his new role as one of many offensive options for the rebuilt Razorbacks (9-1).
Kingsley's offensive struggles haven't slowed Arkansas, which won its sixth straight game with a 77-74 victory over Texas on Saturday. However, they have left many wondering if the 6-foot-10 Nigerian has regressed or if he's simply finding his way with a different, more talented set of teammates.
After averaging 15.9 points per game last season, when the Razorbacks finished 16-16 and missed the NCAA Tournament, Kingsley is averaging only 10.7 per game this season. His shooting percentage has also dropped from 54.8 percent last season to 48.7, though coach Mike Anderson is confident the senior will regain his scoring touch heading into conference play.
''I think there's more in there,'' Anderson said. ''I think it's all about getting guys getting used to one another. I don't worry about that, as long as he continues to impact defensively, and that's what he's doing.''
Defense has never been a problem for Kingsley, who is ninth in the country with a career-best 3.1 blocks per game.
Despite that, Kingsley's frustration with his lack of offensive touches showed during the win over the Longhorns. They were particularly evident during his scoreless first half, though he did finish with seven points in the second half to go along with 10 rebounds and five blocks.
''It's frustrating for a player to go from being one of the top scorers on the team to being not as high as he was last year,'' guard Anton Beard said about Kingsley. ''But he's handled it well ... He's doing more than just scoring for us.''
Kingsley briefly considered leaving for the professional ranks last spring, entering the NBA draft before deciding to return to the Razorbacks . Part of the reason was so the athletic center could give scouts a larger body of work to evaluate, because he largely sat on the bench for his first two seasons behind Portis.
He knows the pressure to impress is there, but he's also comfortable being a part of a more talented roster rather than the key cog on a struggling team - like last season.
''I guess I can say I'm worried, but I'm not really, really worried that much,'' Kingsley said last month. ''It's not like we're losing every game. We're winning games right now. So it's not that much of a big deal ... The scoring is going to come the way I'm working right now. I just have faith that it's going to come.''
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