Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
KenPom Prediction: Arkansas 76-75
Location: Columbia, SC
Arkansas has won three straight overall and four straight in the SEC, now they have to head to the road for a tricky one against South Carolina who’s had one of the weirdest seasons. Going into SEC play with a 5-7 record, including losses to some baaaad teams like Stony Brook and Wyoming, the Gamecocks threw down four straight SEC wins. Since then, they’ve dropped off a bit, going 2-4 in their last six, but they’re still at 6-3 in SEC play.
They’ve been very tough at home in SEC play, beating Mississippi State, Missouri, and Auburn in Columbia. They’re coming off a brutal 76-48 loss to Kentucky in Rupp Arena.
South Carolina’s stud is Chris Silva, who was last season’s co-Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC and is their leading scorer and rebounder. He’s had a problem with foul trouble this year, finishing with four or five fouls in all but one of their conference games. Daniel Gafford has been excellent at drawing fouls this season and they’ll need him to be aggressive whenever the Gamecocks put Silva on him defensively.
Freshman A.J. Lawson is also going to be a tough matchup. He’s been a very good threat on the drive but has struggled to shoot from three, shooting just 29% from deep.
In addition to losing to Stony Brook and Wyoming, South Carolina has played an extremely difficult schedule. While scheduling tough is a necessity in college basketball, this Gamecocks season is an example of how you can go too far with it and it becomes a deterrent. Scheduling Virginia, Michigan, and Clemson all in a row is too much of a good thing when it comes to scheduling. Getting one or two helps your SOS and prepares you for conference play, putting three in a row just drains you and gives zero room for error against smaller teams. When you do slip up like South Carolina did, it torpedoes any potential postseason eligibility by falling under .500.
Oh right, today’s game.
Statistically, South Carolina has struggled shooting and with turnovers all year. If Arkansas can limit the Gamecocks’ quality shots and force them in to long twos instead of paint touches and three’s they’ll have a great shot. When South Carolina’s effective FG% is over 50, they’re 8-2, and when it’s under they are 3-9. There’s your big benchmark for the game.