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Arkansas vs Missouri Recap and Mississippi State Preview: Coming Together

The Hogs coasted by Mizzou with ease, but now a tricky road game against Mississippi State looms.

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

For Hog fans expecting a repeat of the 1993 drilling of Mizzou, 120-68, Wednesday night may have been a disappointment. The Hogs controlled throughout but seemed uninterested in turning the game into a historic blowout. And to Mizzou's credit, the Tigers didn't give up despite surrendering a 15-0 run over seven minutes in the first half that effectively put the game away.

Arkansas Missouri
Points 84 69
Efficiency 1.22 0.99
Floor % 60.87% 47.14%
Effective FG % 55.17% 55.77%
Two FG % 47.22% 57.14%
Three FG % 45.45% 35.29%
Offensive Rebound % 38.71% 30.77%
Turnover % 11.59% 28.57%
Assists : Turnovers 2.50 0.75

The game was played a slower pace than Arkansas would have liked (69 possessions, the Hogs prefer at least 70). Still, the Razorbacks easily won floor percentage, three-point percentage, offensive rebounding, and turnovers. Mizzou shot a pretty decent percentage from the field, but much of that came in the faster-paced second half when trading baskets was the best the Tigers could do.

Arkansas possession efficiency score
BALLHANDLERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Rashad Madden 5 0 0 6 1 2 0.59
Anton Beard 13 1 1 5 5 1 1.76
SHOOTERS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Michael Qualls 21 2 0 14 10 1 1.15
Anthlon Bell 8 0 1 6 4 0 1.13
Manuale Watkins 4 2 2 3 2 0 2.00
FORWARDS Points Off. Rebs Steals FG Attempts FT Attempts Turnovers Score
Bobby Portis 16 4 1 12 0 2 1.50
Alandise Harris 8 1 1 4 4 0 1.67
Jacorey Williams 7 0 1 3 3 1 1.45
Moses Kingsley 2 0 1 3 2 1 0.60

Beard and Watkins continue to play out of their minds in terms of efficiency. Qualls did okay given his volume of production, and Madden did not play well, although he wasn't really needed. Portis, Harris, and Williams all exploited Mizzou's weak frontcourt for good games.

Mississippi State Preview

As I wrote prior to the first game, Rick Ray is a decent defensive coach whose offense was nonexistant until Ray decided to sell the farm and embrace the referee madness. Mississippi State's offense now consists of its three guards crashing the lane, drawing contact, throwing up junk, and praying for fouls. Nearly all of State's conference wins have come thanks to massive free throw totals - 33 at Missouri, 35 at Tennessee, 35 against LSU, 31 at Auburn - and it's why they are 5-8 in SEC play despite being picked at the bottom. The Hogs didn't foul (or the refs didn't call them, depending on your allegiance) in the first game, and the Bulldog offense was, well, you saw it. Nine first-half points.

Record RPI vs. top 50 vs. top 100
Arkansas 21-5 22nd 5-2 8-5
Miss State 12-14 172nd 0-4 2-8
Name Position Height Points Rebounds Assists FG % 3FG %
Roquez Johnson* F 6-7 10.4 5.7 - 0.533 -
Fred Thomas* G 6-5 10.0 4.0 - 0.374 0.333
Gavin Ware* F 6-9 10.0 7.3 - 0.483 -
Craig Sword* G 6-3 9.1 2.2 1.5 0.401 0.340
I.J. Ready* G 5-11 8.2 2.0 2.2 0.411 0.307
Travis Daniels G/F 6-8 6.2 4.1 - 0.415 0.333
Trivante Bloodman G 6-0 4.1 1.4 2.1 0.451 -
Fallou Ndoye F 6-11 2.4 1.7 - 0.535 -
Oliver Black F 6-9 1.9 2.6 - 0.531 -

Mississippi State's production doesn't really extend past its five starters, who score 77 percent of the Bulldogs' points. They do not have a dominant jump-shooter, hence the drive and hack offense.

Arkansas offensive overview
Arkansas offense Miss State defense Advantage
Efficiency 1.09 (29th) 0.96 (92nd) Arkansas
Floor % 52.2% (19th) 45.5% (91st) Arkansas

State's defense has been pretty decent this year, thanks mostly to not making mistakes. The Hogs struggled offensively in the first game, totaling just 0.87 points per possession with a 41.4 percent floor percentage.

Arkansas shooting
Arkansas offense Miss State defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 51.1% (89th) 47.4% (106th) Push
Two Point % 49.5% (107th) 47.2% (149th) Push
Three Point % 36.5% (79th) 31.8% (69th) Push
Three Point Rate 30.9% (262nd) 38.0% (289th) -

Mississippi State's defense is mostly comparable to Texas A&M's. They force a lot of three-pointers (38 percent), and their three-point defense is a strength (69th nationally). Beating them requires getting the ball inside, where they are not as strong. Arkansas cannot jack up threes without abandon, since that what State wants.

Arkansas ballhandling
Arkansas offense Miss State defense Advantage
Assist % 60.8% (35th) 52.6% (166th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 15.9% (25th) 18.6% (184th) Arkansas big
Assist : Turnover Ratio 1.47 (8th) 0.95 (159th) Arkansas big

Outside of three-point defense, State's defense is subpar. They don't force many turnovers, and Arkansas should be able to move the ball with ease, so there's no excuse for not getting it inside.

Miss State offensive overview
Miss State offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Efficiency 0.94 (275th) 0.95 (83rd) Arkansas big
Floor % 46.6% (210th) 45.5% (88th) Arkansas big

The big difference between State's floor percentage and efficiency is explained by the high volume of free throws they shoot.

Miss State shooting
Miss State offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Effective Field Goal % 47.4% (236th) 48.4% (143rd) Arkansas
Two Point % 47.5% (183rd) 47.1% (145th) Push
Three Point % 31.6% (268th) 34.0% (169th) Arkansas
Three Point Rate 28.9% (293rd) 32.5% (119th) -

The Bulldogs have the worst three-point offense among SEC teams. Everything they do depends on getting to the hoop. If Arkansas doesn't foul, State will have a hard time generating offense...

Miss State ballhandling
Miss State offense Arkansas defense Advantage
Assist % 40.9% (347th) 52.1% (150th) Arkansas big
Turnover % 22.9% (338th) 22.1% (23rd) Arkansas +300
Assist : Turnover Ratio 0.57 (345th) 0.78 (32nd) Arkansas +300

...because those ballhandlers sure aren't going to help. State's ballhandling is about as bad as you'll ever see in major college basketball. All the guards really do on offense is lower their heads and drive wildly to the basket.

Arkansas Miss State Advantage
Arkansas offensive 34.3% (36th) 72.1% (121st) Arkansas
Arkansas defensive 71.1% (168th) 33.1% (58th) Miss State

Both teams hold an offensive rebounding advantage. State is one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the SEC this year.

Arkansas Miss State Advantage
Arkansas drawing 26.0% (268th) 28.4% (247th) Push
Arkansas committing 25.5% (78th) 29.1% (70th) Push

Arkansas doesn't commit many fouls, but SEC refs don't care. The game is in Starkville, so my guess is that *Obi-Wan Kenobi Jedi force wave* Arkansas does commit a lot of fouls. The Hogs need to do what they can, but understand that the game is played by different rules in different places and there may not be much they can do about it.

Keys to the Game

  1. Shoot well. Arkansas has taken its shooting on the road for the last couple of games, and that needs to continue. Shooting a decent percentage from beyond the arc is important, but getting (and hitting) open looks inside will be paramount.
  2. Shut down the Bulldog outside game. Mississippi State is a poor jump-shooting team with guards that don't get many open looks. Arkansas' opponents are shooting 30 percent from the beyond the arc since the second Tennessee game - a six-game stretch - and that included State going zero of 10 in the first meeting.
  3. Force turnovers. Mississippi State turns the ball over on a ridiculous 23 percent of possessions. The Hog press has been up-and-down this season, but it forced 24 turnovers in the first meeting. That needs to happen again on the road.