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Preview: Hogs Face Another Sturdy Mid-Major Test

Arkansas welcomes one of the top mid major programs to Bud Walton

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas doesn’t get much time to enjoy their season opening 95-56 win over Samford. Now one of the top mid-major programs in Bucknell comes to Bud Walton. Arkansas grew their lead early thanks to a Daryl Macon hot streak. In the second half it was a balanced scoring effort that led to six players hitting double figures. Arkansas will need that balanced attack in a lot of games this season.

Who is Bucknell?

The Bison have become NCAA tournament regulars. Last season they gave West Virginia all they could handle in the first round. They’re no strangers to SEC play as well, beating Vanderbilt on the road last year. They have struggled so far to start the season, losing their exhibition and season opener, but all the pieces from last year’s tournament team are all still there.

Projected Starters

For Arkansas, there’s no reason to see any change until Arlando Cook and Dustin Thomas are back. Four of the five starters hit double figures for the Hogs and the one that didn’t was Trey Thompson and he was 4/4 from the field and had eight boards. The player to watch for the Bison is Nana Foulland, the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year. He didn’t have an outstanding opener but averaged over 15 points and 7 rebounds per game last year.

3 Key Stats

(stats from previous season)

What does Bucknell do well? Efficient shooting. With one of the best effective field goal percentages in the country it will be crucial to force turnovers, which Bucknell struggles with. Their shooting is so good because they get a lot inside from Foulland, as well Zach Thomas, Kimbal Mackenzie, and Stephen Brown all shooting over 40% from deep.

They also have a very low offensive rebounding percentage, in part because they want to control the tempo. They won’t risk not having guys back and let Arkansas get easy baskets. Which is something you can afford to do when you shoot as well as the Bison do.

Arkansas will need to do two things to win this game, successfully push the tempo and guard the three point shot. Those are two things they did extremely well against Samford. Against the Bulldogs they had 19 points off turnovers and forced Samford to shoot 28% from deep. If the Hogs replecate that, they won’t have a problem. But Bucknell is the toughest mid-major coming to Bud Walton this year. They will be a tougher matchup than Samford but the Hogs should still get a win.