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Arkansas vs Mizzou Review & Tennessee Preview: Ball Don't Lie

It was the ugly, but the Hogs got a much-needed road win to move to 15-4 (4-2 SEC). Up next is a rematch with Tennessee.

Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

He sure tried. Ted Valentine, also known as "TV Teddy," did his best to give Mizzou a chance on Saturday. A late phantom foul on Rashad Madden put Mizzou's Wes Clark on the line for two shots with 3.3 seconds left, but the Basketball Gods do exist and they are benevolent, and Clark missed both to give the Hogs a critical road win. It was Arkansas' first win in a road game officiated by Valentine since 1996; the Razorbacks had lost 13 straight since (TV Teddy didn't referee any Arkansas road games from 1997-2008, so all 13 losses have been since 2009).

The Razorbacks played poorly, and Mizzou actually played pretty well, and Arkansas still won a key road game. That's a good sign. Arkansas managed to go 2-0 this week by the slimmest of margins.

Arkansas Mizzou
Points 61 60
Efficiency 1.02 1.00
Floor % 53.33% 46.67%
Effective FG % 39.68% 45.69%
Two FG % 40.43% 40.00%
Three FG % 25.00% 38.89%
Offensive Rebound % 40.00% 37.14%
Turnover % 5.00% 13.33%
Assists : Turnovers 3.33 1.38

The key theme of the preview was that Arkansas has to find ways to take more shots than their opponents. Arkansas beat Alabama by attempting 14 more field goals and recording a higher floor percentage by 7 percent (53 to 46). The Hogs managed the exact same floor percentage margin against Mizzou, and that's how they won the game. Mizzou shot better, but Arkansas took 5 more field goals and 7 more free throws. How? They executed the Keys to the Game from the preview, of course! (Note: I'm not trying to pat myself on the back for predicting that, since for every time I'm right on one thing, I'm probably wrong on two or three other things!) The Hogs won the offensive rebounding battle, chasing 40 percent of their misses, and only turned it over 3 times, which is astonishing. The guards had ZERO turnovers. I wrote that Mizzou didn't press often or well, but still, that's amazing.

Once again, we saw the Hogs get outshot and win by taking more shots. For the Fastest 40, quantity is king. The best way to beat Arkansas is to win the shooting battle. The Razorbacks must mitigate that by winning other key areas like offensive rebounding and turnover margin so they win by simply getting more shots up. That's the goal of this style of play.

Arkansas possession efficiency score
BALLHANDLERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Rashad Madden 7 2 0 4 4 0 1.50
Anton Beard 7 0 0 4 2 0 1.40
Jabril Durham 3 0 0 1 0 0 3.00
SHOOTERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Michael Qualls 8 2 1 15 5 0 0.63
Anthlon Bell 8 2 0 7 5 0 1.05
Manuale Watkins 2 0 0 1 0 0 2.00
Nick Babb 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00
FORWARDS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Bobby Portis 12 6 1 16 0 0 1.19
Alandise Harris 14 2 0 9 2 1 1.45
Jacorey Williams 0 0 1 3 0 1 0.25
Moses Kingsley 0 0 0 2 0 1 0.00

Gold stars go to Madden (7 points, 9 rebounds, zero turnovers), Harris (14 points on 9 field goal attempts) and Beard (7 points on 4 field goal attempts, zero turnovers).

Harris has completely taken over the power forward spot, as Williams only played 9 minutes (Harris played 31). Harris also has recorded a higher possession efficiency score in five of six conference games, including all three road games (although neither played well against Tennessee).

Tennessee rematch

Record RPI vs. top 50 vs. top 100
Arkansas 15-4 21st 4-2 5-4
Tennessee 12-6 55th 2-5 3-5

The Vols won the first matchup 74-69. I pointed out in the preview for that game three things: first, Tennessee's three-point defense was awful; second, Tennessee's defensive rebounding was awful; and third, Tennessee fouled a lot. The first one came true to form, as Arkansas hit 8 of 20 three-pointers (40 percent). The last two did not. Arkansas only rebounded about 30 percent of its misses (10 of 31). TV Teddy ensured the third one didn't work, as the heavy-fouling Vols were whistled for a season-low 12 fouls. Add those things up and Tennessee wins a close game.

Name Position Height Points Rebounds Assists FG % 3FG %
Josh Richardson* G 6-6 15.5 4.2 3.4 0.472 0.410
Kevin Punter* G 6-4 10.7 2.4 1.7 0.454 0.429
Armani Moore* F 6-5 9.6 6.7 2.3 0.445 -
Robert Hubbs III* G 6-6 6.1 2.4 - 0.417 0.341
Derek Reese* F 6-8 5.6 5.2 - 0.424 0.344
Devon Baulkman G 6-5 5.2 2.4 - 0.429 0.444
Detrick Mostella G 6-3 4.7 1.3 - 0.300 0.295
Willie Carmichael III F 6-8 2.7 2.7 - 0.500 -

Not much height for the Vols, who have just two guys over 6-foot-6 and none over 6-foot-8. Richardson is a special player, and both he and Punter are capable of shredding the Hogs from deep. Moore, 6-foot-5 forward, had 14 points and 8 rebounds in the first matchup. Depth is limited for the Vols, however, and they may wear down on the road. Foul trouble has also been a factor with the big men, who commit a ton of fouls (327th nationally in foul rate).

Arkansas offensive overview
Arkansas offense Tennessee defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.12 (14th) 0.99 (179th) Arkansas big
Floor % 53.6% (12th) 46.1% (128th) Arkansas

Much of this is a review since we've already previewed Tennessee once, but the large difference between the Vol defense's efficiency and floor percentage is due to the fact that they give up a lot of three-pointers, which of course are worth more points per scoring possession. Arkansas has advantages here and should score plenty in the friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas shooting
Arkansas offense Tennessee defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 51.6% (71st) 48.8% (174th) Arkansas
Two Point % 49.6% (106th) 44.4% (75th) Push
Three Point % 37.4% (53rd) 36.5% (270th) Arkansas big
Three Point Rate 30.7% (262nd) 42.8% (344th) -

Again, Tennessee's best chance is to win the shooting battle. The Vols usually get bombed on from beyond the arc, but can defend well inside it.

Arkansas ballhandling
Arkansas offense Tennessee defense Advantage
Assist % 60.1% (48th) 64.9% (345th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 15.8% (27th) 22.1% (29th) Push
Assist : Turnover Ratio 1.49 (8th) 0.94 (167th) Arkansas big

Tennessee won the first game in part because it forced 18 turnovers. This matchup is a "push" on paper, but Arkansas can't let Tennessee force that many turnovers again. Why? I've said it plenty of times: Arkansas has to win by pure volume of shots taken. A turnover means you didn't get a shot off that possession.

Tennessee offensive overview
Tennessee offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.02 (110th) 0.98 (159th) Push
Floor % 48.6% (114th) 46.5% (146th) Push

Slight advantage to the Vols but this one is fairly close. The Hog defense got boatraced in the first game.

Tennessee shooting
Tennessee offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 49.8% (125th) 50.4% (240th) Tennessee
Two Point % 47.8% (162nd) 48.4% (200th) Push
Three Point % 35.9% (98th) 36.3% (262nd) Tennessee big
Three Point Rate 32.9% (202nd) 32.4% (121st) -

Again, Tennessee's best chance is to win the shooting battle. They'll have their fair share of open three-pointers against a Hog defense that just doesn't defend the perimeter very well. Arkansas couldn't overcome it against Ole Miss but was able to against Vanderbilt and Alabama.

Tennessee ballhandling
Tennessee offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Assist % 48.3% (272nd) 51.1% (124th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 19.4% (192nd) 21.5% (38th) Arkansas big
Assist : Turnover Ratio 0.90 (224th) 0.82 (67th) Arkansas big

And this is why Tennessee has to win the shooting battle: the Vols are sure as heck not going to win the ballhandling battle. Tennessee had 11 assists against 14 turnovers in the first matchup, and Arkansas needs only repeat that production on defense. That wasn't the problem in Knoxville.

Rebounding
Arkansas Tennessee Advantage
Arkansas offensive 37.1% (15th) 67.0% (303rd) Arkansas big
Arkansas defensive 71.6% (139th) 34.2% (44th) Tennessee

Offensive rebounding has driven the Hogs these last two games. The Hogs rebounded 50 percent of their misses against Alabama and 40 percent against Mizzou, allowing them to win without shooting well. Guess what? Tennessee is statistically worse than either of those teams in defensive rebounding. The Vols can grab offensive rebounds, too, so the Hogs need to box out.

Fouls
Arkansas Tennessee Advantage
Arkansas drawing 26.3% (241st) 31.5% (327th) Arkansas
Arkansas committing 25.2% (68th) 28.3% (110th) Push

Fouls should have benefitted the Hogs in the first game and didn't (yay road games), but things should be different this time around, although after the Ole Miss game I guess that's unpredictable too.

Keys to the Game

  1. Crash the offensive glass. This is becoming a familiar one. Offensive rebounds almost always increase shot output, and that's what the Hogs need. Tennessee has two guys in their regular rotation that are 6-foot-8, but none taller and the next tallest guy is 6-foot-6. There are no excuses for getting outrebounded.
  2. Get someone hot from beyond the arc. This is, on paper, Anthlon Bell's time to shine. His three ball isn't falling (again) and it may be time for Anton Beard to start taking his minutes if he can't get it going against the worst three-point defense in the conference. Beard and Madden have looked good on the floor together, because it allows Madden (who is a decent three-point shooter himself) to play off the ball in a more natural position for him. Still, "Bell in Bunches" is a sight to see, so I'm not ready to give up on him in any game until it becomes apparent that it's not happening for him.
  3. No turnovers. Yep, all three tips are offensive, because if Arkansas' offense gets cranked to the max, I don't think Tennessee can keep up even if the Hog defense plays poorly. Three turnovers against Mizzou is crazy-impressive, but Tennessee's press is a different animal. The Hogs cannot be careless with the basketball.