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Preview: Hogs Face Fresno In Final Test Before PK80

One last mid-major before the Hogs travel to Portland

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Texas Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Hogs are 2-0 and have another team who won 20 games last year and made postseason play coming to Bud Walton Arena. Fresno State made the NIT last year, and while they’re not quite at the same level as Bucknell or maybe Samford, it will be interesting to see if the Hogs can maintain their level of play leading into the PK80 tournament.

Who is Fresno State?

The Bulldogs are another top-100 team according to KenPom’s rankings, and are a team that brings in lots of experience. Four of their top six scorers return as does a significant amount of their outside shooting. Their head coach Terry Rodney has been there seven years and took their team to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.

Projected Starters

Again there is no real reason to expect any changes right now. Dustin Thomas could find his way back in the starting lineup if he’s back for the tournament in Portland. That isn’t a guarantee with the way Adrio Bailey is playing though. Bailey has done an excellent job crashing to offensive boards while being very efficient on offense.

The players to watch for Fresno Jaron Hopkins and Deshon Taylor. In their last game the two guards combined for 35 points on 14/24 shooting to go with a healthy amount of rebounds and assists. Like Arkansas, the majority of their shooting and playmaking will come from their guards.

3 Key Stats

(Note: This will be the last game using last season’s statistics)

The first thing that jumps off the page is the difference in free throw shooting. Fresno State was horrendous last year and in their one game against a D1 opponent this year they were 50%. Arkansas isn’t at the level they were at last year (largely due to Dusty Hannahs absence) but are still above 70%.

Aside from that, these teams like to do a lot of the same things. Both were in the top 30 in the nation in steal percentage. They also had very similar defensive efficiency numbers. A big difference is they foul a lot more than the Hogs do. Last year Fresno State’s opponents got over 25% of their points from the free throw line. For reference in the first two games of this year, Arkansas opponents have gotten 14% of their points from the line, and the national average is 20%. That combination of giving teams points while being dreadful at the free throw line is the difference in a lot of games. In this game if Arkansas can get to the line early it should be another game like the first two.