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Arkansas vs. Ole Miss Stats Preview: Big Homestand

The Hogs have a big two-game homestand and need to go 2-0 to remain near the top of the SEC. Can they do it?

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start by echoing sentiments of other writers around here ever since the Tennessee loss: Arkansas is not on the bubble. Not even close, really. Arkansas entered the Tennessee game ranked 19th in RPI, lost, and are now 13th. Why? Non-conference schedule, mostly. Dayton is up to 22nd, SMU (road win!) is sitting at 18th (although pending NCAA investigations against Keith Frazier could hurt them), and Georgia (road win!) is up to 26th, and leading Florida as I write this. That's two road wins over top 25 teams.

The Tennessee review will be brief. As expected, Arkansas got open looks from three and hit a decent number (8 of 20, 40 percent). What was unexpected was the turnovers, and everyone from Bobby Portis to Rashad Madden joined the turnover fun. What was also unexpected was how bad the halfcourt defense was, as Tennessee shot 50 percent from the floor after shooting 30 percent against Alabama just days before. Those things have to get fixed. What was beyond Arkansas' control was fouls: Tennessee entered the game 346th nationally in foul rate and somehow was only called for 12 fouls, their lowest of the season. As we've said before, that's life on the road.

Here's an individual breakdown:

Arkansas possession efficiency score
BALLHANDLERS Points FGA Turnovers Steals O-Rebs Efficiency
Rashad Madden 6 7 4 0 0 0.55
Anton Beard 12 6 0 1 0 2.40
Jabril Durham 0 0 1 1 0 0.00
Michael Qualls 15 11 2 1 2 1.50
Anthlon Bell 8 7 2 1 1 1.14
Manuale Watkins 3 1 0 1 0 3.00
Bobby Portis 17 14 4 1 5 1.42
Jacorey Williams 4 7 3 0 2 0.50
Alandise Harris 4 4 2 1 0 0.80
Moses Kingsley 0 0 0 1 0 0.00

The "possession efficiency score" is something I invented, so take it with a grain of salt if you want. Offensive Efficiency for individuals is points divided by field goals attempted, so I tinkered with the formula. This formula is Points / (FGA + turnovers - steals - offensive rebounds), because missed field goals and turnovers are lost possessions, and steals and offensive rebounds create new ones. Points are the best way for a possession to end, obviously.

For example, Rashad Madden, who undoubtedly played a horrible game, scored 6 points on 11 possessions (7 field goals attempted, 4 turnovers, zero possessions created by steals or offensive boards). By contrast, Anton Beard scored 12 points on a net of 5 possessions (6 field goals attempted with 1 steal).

Overall, a lineup of Beard-Watkins-Qualls-Williams-Portis looks like the best option for road games. Anyone who watched the game live would likely have the same impression.

Ole Miss Preview

Record RPI vs. top 50 vs. top 100
Arkansas 13-3 13 3-1 5-3
Ole Miss 10-6 58 1-3 3-4

The SEC is much stronger in 2015 thanks to better non-conference scheduling, largely in avoidance of SWAC and MEAC schools that kill RPIs. So Ole Miss, who suffered a bad loss to Charleston Southern but has since rebounded, has a quality RPI of 58th. Let's meet the Rebels.

Name Position Height Points Rebounds Assists FG % 3FG %
Stefan Moody* G 5-10 14.8 3.3 2.1 0.393 0.383
Jarvis Summers* PG 6-3 13.4 - 3.4 0.372 0.279
Ladarius White* G 6-6 12.1 3.2 1.3 0.427 0.475
Sebastian Saiz* F 6-9 7.3 4.9 - 0.617 -
M.J. Rhett* F 6-9 6.6 5.3 - 0.519 -
Dwight Coleby F 6-9 5.9 4.6 - 0.325 -
Martavious Newby F 6-3 4.1 5.3 1.9 0.415 0.263
Terence Smith G 6-4 3.6 - 1.7 0.350 0.308

This is a pretty typical Andy Kennedy team, with a number of big bodies that rotate in and out. The Rebs certainly won't tire out. Saiz is a very good low post defender, while the combo of Moody and Summers handle most of the scoring, and White has come along this year. Summers is one of the SEC's veteran point guards and likely won't be fazed by pressure that Arkansas will bring.

Arkansas offensive overview
Arkansas offense Ole Miss defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.12 (15th) 0.93 (81st) Arkansas
Floor % 53.3% (14th) 44.3% (71st) Arkansas

Ole Miss has a decent defense, but the Hogs should be able to score.

Arkansas shooting
Arkansas offense Ole Miss defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 52.9% (41st) 44.6% (46th) Push
Two Point % 50.5% (75th) 40.9% (10th) Ole Miss
Three Point % 39.0% (29th) 33.4% (165th) Arkansas big
Three Point Rate 30.3% (267th) 40.2% (318th) -

Ole Miss is, overall, very similar to Tennessee. They have a pretty good inside defense, but they tend to get bombed on and have a below-average three point defense. The difference is that while Ole Miss' field goal defense is better than Tennessee's, the Rebs don't have the turnover-forcing capabilities of the Vols, meaning that they won't be able to dictate Arkansas' shots to them. See what I mean:

Arkansas ballhandling
Arkansas offense Ole Miss defense Advantage
Assist % 61.5% (33rd) 63.4% (334th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 16.5% (38th) 18.9% (191st) Arkansas big
Assist : Turnover Ratio 1.49 (10th) 1.01 (208th) Arkansas big

Ole Miss' ball pressure is almost zero, and Arkansas' guards should be free to move the ball around at will. Tennessee also had a bad assist defense, but that was because of the traps they ran. Ole Miss doesn't get enough movement in their traps.

Ole Miss offensive preview
Ole Miss offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.04 (75th) 0.94 (97th) Push
Floor % 49.3% (84th) 45.2% (98th) Push

Ole Miss can score points, but they've had some issues with droughts when the long shots aren't falling.

Ole Miss shooting
Ole Miss offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 48.6% (180th) 49.3% (192nd) Push
Two Point % 46.5% (217th) 48.4% (203rd) Push
Three Point % 35.6% (112th) 34.1% (186th) Ole Miss
Three Point Rate 30.4% (260th) 32.3% (119th) -

While the forwards handle defense for Ole Miss, the guards do most of the scoring. Ole Miss can hit from the outside, so keep an eye on that.

Ole Miss ballhandling
Ole Miss offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Assist % 51.6% (206th) 51.9% (138th) Arkansas
Turnover % 17.9% (96th) 22.3% (33rd) Arkansas
Assist : Turnover Ratio 1.03 (120th) 0.78 (41st) Arkansas

Ole Miss' ballhandling is generally competent, but if Arkansas can force some turnovers and rattle Moody and/or Summers the Hogs could create a run similar to last year's rout in Fayetteville.

Arkansas Ole Miss Advantage
Arkansas offensive 36.3% (20th) 70.8% (181st) Arkansas big
Arkansas defensive 72.0% (124th) 33.5% (53rd) Ole Miss

Both teams chase after their own misses pretty well, but Arkansas is much better at cleaning up the defensive glass. Arkansas' rebounding has improved tremendously in recent weeks, so this could end up being a big Hog advantage.

Arkansas Ole Miss Advantage
Arkansas drawing 25.3% (289th) 29.0% (252nd) Push
Arkansas committing 24.8% (57th) 27.2% (183rd) Arkansas big

Similar to Tennessee, Ole Miss commits a lot of fouls. However, since this game is at Bud Walton Arena, I suspect Ole Miss will be called for more than 12 fouls.

Three Keys for Victory

  1. Crash the offensive glass. Ole Miss gives up a lot of offensive boards, so if Portis or another forward can establish themselves on the low post offensively, the Hogs can draw fouls and create extra possessions.
  2. Get Anton Beard more significant minutes. Madden plays better at home because his three-pointers tend to fall in Bud Walton, but Beard has proven on multiple occasions (Georgia and Tennessee most recently) that he's the best option at point guard away from home. He needs more time with the main guys to get into a rhythm.
  3. Force turnovers. This is an obvious one, but with Ole Miss so reliant on the guards offensively, forcing turnovers is a great way to create offense and keep Ole Miss from getting settled.