Arkansas Razorbacks vs California Golden Bears: The Late Preview

This is a little late, but we just got up from our "it's a dang 10:00 pm tipoff on a Monday and we need to prepare" nap. But here's our preview nonetheless.

There will obviously be comparisons to these two teams' first matchup in Maui, but as some have noted, these will be two different teams.

How so?

The game was screwy from the start. Anthlon Bell and Michael Qualls were held out of the starting lineup for being late to a team meeting, leaving Rickey Scott as a starter and playing 10 minutes. Rashad Madden hadn't developed into a starter yet. Moses Kingsley was still feared to be so raw that he didn't play at all (and Arkansas was killed on rebounds in the process). Bobby Portis and Mardracus Wade played the most minutes for the Hogs and scored a combined 7 points.

As for Cal, senior center Richard Solomon won't be playing due to concussion symptoms. In the first game, he played 20 minutes, scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He's also the tallest player on their team. At least in theory, it should be harder for them to "punk" Portis on the boards again.

Portis has specifically mentioned that Cal game on multiple occasions throughout the year as a game he never wants to happen again because he was so outplayed. It will be interesting to watch him battle David Kravish down low again and see if he can come up with a better result.

Arkansas shot poorly from inside the arc in that game, just 37.5%, which can happen when there's no real inside presence. Cal, meanwhile, was 51.3%. That cost them the game as much as the rebounding disparity, but both stats point to problems in the paint for Arkansas, and that's what will have to change for the Razorbacks tonight.

Positives from that game: the Hogs won the turnover battle easily 18-10. Qualls still scored 21 points and Bell had 16 despite not starting. The Razorbacks did have a small lead in the beginning of the second half but it didn't last long.

To win this game, Arkansas can't allow Cal to shoot over 50% from inside the arc. The Hogs have played better defense in the latter parts of the season, so that is a possibility. Arkansas also can't allow a career game from any of Cal's shooters: Jordan Matthews, Tyrone Wallace, or Justin Cobbs.

The Bears don't have a great perimeter defense, allowing opponents to hit 36.1% of their threes. If the Hogs are hitting from outside, Arkansas could win easily, but we could say that about almost any game this year.

The more I study this game the better I feel for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are in a better position health-wise and Cal has not played particularly well down the stretch of the season (Bears lost 5 of their last 8). But of course, this is a road game we're talking about here, so anything is possible.

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