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Arkansas vs. Ole Miss Recap and Mizzou Preview: Football School

The Hogs got a surprise win at Ole Miss. Getting more consistent starts Wednesday with struggling Mizzou.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Arkansas got an unexpected win at Ole Miss, taking its shooting game on the road (again!) and getting to 20 wins one game ahead of expectations. The win gives Arkansas seven victories in its last eight tries, with the other being the Florida game which, of course, has an asterisk next to it.

Arkansas Ole Miss
Points 71 70
Efficiency 1.08 1.06
Floor % 48.48% 54.55%
Effective FG % 55.08% 41.67%
Two FG % 53.85% 43.48%
Three FG % 45.00% 25.00%
Offensive Rebound % 29.03% 51.22%
Turnover % 16.67% 15.15%
Assists : Turnovers 1.64 1.50

For the first time this season, Arkansas lost the floor percentage battle and won the game. The Hogs were outrebounded by 15, turned it over one more time, and were -12 in free throw attempts, and won the road against a probable tournament team. Incredible.

Arkansas' two point shooting has been amazing in the last few games. It started with 60+ percent outburst at Auburn, whose two point defense is abysmal, but Ole Miss' was pretty good. The Hogs also shot 9 of 20 beyond the arc and held Ole Miss to a poor shooting output.

Arkansas possession efficiency score
BALLHANDLERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Rashad Madden 10 2 0 10 4 4 0.75
Anton Beard 14 0 1 5 0 2 2.14
Jabril Durham 3 0 0 3 0 2 0.60
SHOOTERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Michael Qualls 15 1 0 11 0 1 1.33
Anthlon Bell 0 0 0 2 0 1 -1.00
Manuale Watkins 8 0 1 4 0 1 1.80
FORWARDS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Bobby Portis 12 2 0 13 0 0 1.08
Alandise Harris 6 0 0 8 2 0 0.67
Jacorey Williams 0 0 0 2 2 0 -1.00
Moses Kingsley 3 1 0 1 2 0 2.00

Beard, Qualls, and Watkins were incredible on a night when Portis was down. Qualls' best contributions were his defensive rebounds late in the game, as Ole Miss had 21 offensive rebounds but zero in the final six minutes. Beard and Watkins combined to go 9 of 9 from the floor for 22 points with just three turnovers. Watkins is now shooting 72 percent from the floor for the season, by the way. He needs a few more attempts to qualify for it, but the school record is 70 percent by Oliver Miller back in 1991.

Previewing Mizzou

Mizzou is bad, y'all. The Tigers have lost 11 straight after opening SEC play with a win over stumble-prone LSU. They just got throttled on their home floor by Mississippi State on Saturday. That's what makes this the perfect trap game.

The Hogs are coming off an emotional road win. Mizzou is now two full games out of 13th place and has reached peak desperation. The season is a total wash and all the players are looking for now is a signature win to build on for the future, like the Hogs got in Rupp Arena last year, or Bobby Petrino's first team got against LSU in 2008. This is the perfect game.

Record RPI vs. top 50 vs. top 100
Arkansas 20-5 16th 5-2 7-5
Missouri 7-18 188th 1-11 2-14

Still, it will take an absolutely awful game by Arkansas for Mizzou to have a chance. The Tigers nearly got the perfect storm in the Columbia, but as long as Arkansas is focused, this time it won't be close.

Name Position Height Points Rebounds Assists FG % 3FG %
Johnathan Williams III* F 6-9 12.6 7.0 - 0.440 0.333
Wes Clark* G 6-1 10.1 3.5 3.1 0.348 0.314
Montaque Gill-Caesar* G 6-6 9.2 2.9 - 0.347 0.311
Keith Shamburger* G 5-11 8.7 3.2 3.8 0.386 0.340
Namon Wright G 6-5 5.5 2.1 - 0.402 0.397
Jakeenan Gant F 6-8 4.9 1.8 - 0.532 -
Tremaine Isabell G 6-0 4.5 1.4 1.5 0.333 0.295
Keanu Post* F 6-11 4.0 3.5 - 0.603 -
D'Angelo Allen F 6-7 3.6 3.3 - 0.395 -
Ryan Rosburg F 6-10 3.4 2.9 - 0.538 -

Mizzou isn't short on bodies, but it is short on production. Little-used guard Deuce Bello has started the last two games, but he didn't have enough stats on the season to justify putting him on this list. Also of note, starting point guard Wes Clark is injured and out for the rest of the season. The Tigers are getting desperate, and that's reason to be worried if you're an Arkansas fan peeking ahead to Kentucky in a couple weeks.

Gill-Caesar returned for the MSU game after serving a brief suspension. The fact that Mizzou's three leading scorers are shooting 44 percent, 35 percent, and 35 percent from the floor is pretty telling of the kind of season Mizzou has had.

By comparison, Arkansas' three leading scorers (Portis, Qualls, Madden) are shooting 56 percent, 44 percent, and 41 percent.

Arkansas offensive overview
Arkansas offense Missouri defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.09 (29th) 1.05 (292nd) Arkansas big
Floor % 52.0% (21st) 50.8% (311th) Arkansas big

Mizzou's offense has regressed during the season (on paper), due mostly to the step up in SEC competition. Its defense is getting better, although 292nd and 311th in basic efficiency stats doesn't sound like progress.

Arkansas shooting
Arkansas offense Missouri defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 51.0% (89th) 49.1% (179th) Arkansas
Two Point % 49.5% (106th) 48.1% (184th) Arkansas
Three Point % 36.1% (89th) 34.0% (179th) Arkansas
Three Point Rate 30.6% (269th) 33.9% (167th) -

Here's the progress. Missouri's shooting defense actually isn't terrible, although playing an SEC slate full of shooting-challenged teams helps. Both teams are pretty balanced from both inside and outside the arc.

Arkansas ballhandling
Arkansas offense Missouri defense Advantage
Assist % 60.3% (44th) 48.3% (48th) Push
Turnover % 16.1% (31st) 17.5% (260th) Arkansas big
Assist : Turnover Ratio 1.45 (10th) 0.95 (161st) Arkansas big

Arkansas had only 3 turnovers in the game in Columbia, and it played a major role when Arkansas' shooting was down. Mizzou doesn't give up too many assists, but can't force enough turnovers to prevent shots from going up.

Missouri offensive overview
Missouri offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Efficiency 0.93 (289th) 0.95 (84th) Arkansas big
Floor % 44.2% (298th) 45.4% (85th) Arkansas big

Arkansas' defense is much, much better than it was the last time these two teams met. Missouri's offense is slightly worse. In fact, if Arkansas' defense had an average game (0.95 efficiency, 45.4% floor) it was quality as one of Mizzou's best offensive performances in SEC play.

Missouri shooting
Missouri offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 46.4% (274th) 48.1% (136th) Arkansas big
Two Point % 44.9% (281st) 46.8% (132nd) Arkansas big
Three Point % 32.7% (228th) 33.9% (172nd) Arkansas
Three Point Rate 35.6% (133rd) 32.5% (121st) -

Mizzou's best chance is for someone (no idea who) to blow up from beyond the arc. Arkansas' occasional struggles defending the three pointer are well document, and even though the Hogs' last five opponents are a combined 22 of 99 (20 percent) from three, this is still something Mizzou will likely focus on. If that doesn't work, expect them to go after Portis and try to get him in foul trouble. Remember, desperate team.

Missouri ballhandling
Missouri offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Assist % 50.0% (246th) 51.8% (140th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 19.6% (229th) 21.9% (24th) Arkansas big
Assist : Turnover Ratio 0.84 (265th) 0.77 (32nd) Arkansas big

Mizzou doesn't help itself with turnovers, either. Keeping turnovers (which lead to crowd-pleasing fast breaks) at a limit will be a priority for Mizzou.

Arkansas Missouri Advantage
Arkansas offensive 34.4% (35th) 67.7% (300th) Arkansas big
Arkansas defensive 71.0% (168th) 28.4% (190th) Push

With only one remotely SEC-caliber forward (Williams, whose skill set is comparable to Alandise Harris), rebounding is an issue for Mizzou. Big man Keanu Post probably isn't athletic enough to box out Arkansas' rebounders if Mizzou plays zone (and they'll have to in order to keep from getting shredded in the halfcourt).

Arkansas Missouri Advantage
Arkansas drawing 25.8% (278th) 31.1% (326th) Push
Arkansas committing 25.5% (79th) 27.7% (144th) Arkansas

Part of Mizzou's frustration with a disappointing season is evident in the fact that their foul totals have increased in the last few games. Half the SEC teams (by my count: Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee) play an intentionally-rough style of play designed to create foulfests. This has caused Mizzou's foul numbers to increase, but frustration has probably played a role as well. The Tigers have surpassed Tennessee as the conference's most foul-prone team.

Keys to the Game

  1. Stay focused. Arkansas can win this game handily by any number of methods: a shootout, a grind-it-out foulfest, or a fast-paced game with bad shooting, The Hogs just need to not overlook a struggling but desperate team. Don't let the press get beat down the floor. Don't lower the ball on the low post. Don't lose your man in the halfcourt. Don't jack up threes just for the heck of it.
  2. Force some turnovers. The Hogs only forced 10 against Ole Miss, a team with a great point guard. Getting back to the 15-20 turnover games that define 40 Minutes of Hell would be nice, especially against ballhandling-challenged Mizzou.
  3. Shoot the three-ball well. Anthlon Bell didn't score against Ole Miss, but Beard and Watkins are coming on as scorers. If the Hogs could hit 8 three-pointers against Mizzou, it would be a positive sign that this team is getting more consistent.