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Preview and Thread: Hogs and Vols In SEC Opener

Razorbacks open SEC play in front of a sold out crowd.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It’s SEC season in Bud Walton arena and it’s getting welcomed with a sold out crowd to see the Hogs take on a ranked Tennessee squad. The Vols are 9-2 with some very impressive wins and close losses to the previous two National Champions. There’s no easing into conference play in what should be a very exciting game.

More On The Volunteers

Tennessee caught some eyes by beating a very good Purdue team on a neutral court, then almost beating Villanova the next day. They’ve also gone 3-1 against ACC opponents, beating NC State, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest while losing to North Carolina at home. The Vols have tested themselves away from home and have responded very well this year.

Projected Starters

Anton Beard has had some good times against the Vols in his career. In the last matchup against them he led Arkansas with 16 points on 6/8 shooting. In the five times against Tennessee he’s averaged over 10 points almost entirely coming off the bench. Now that he’s in a starting role it could be another big game from him.

Tennessee’s three main scorers are Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, and Jorden Bowden. Last year the three combined for just 22 points but weren’t in the roles they’re in now so expect bigger games from them. Bowden has been absolutely lethal from beyond the arc this year. In the month of December he was 12/19 (63%) from deep.

3 Key Stats

Tennessee hasn’t been an elite shooting team this year, their effective fg% is as good as it is mostly due to Bowden being molten lava hot this season. Their biggest strength lies in their defense. Their elite blocking ability leads their top-10 defense. That also leaves the door open for some offensive rebounds. Arkansas has the same pattern, big men coming from the help side to block a shot can alter shots but also can leave that side open for offensive rebounds. It’s something both teams will do so whoever can take advantage most will have a leg up in this one.