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PREVIEW: Central Arkansas @ Arkansas

Opponent: Central Arkansas Bears
Date: Saturday, December 12
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network Alternate
All-Time Series: Arkansas Leads 6-0

The day has finally arrived. Arkansas is playing an in-state school. Women’s basketball and baseball have already done so, but this feels different. This feels like a different era in Arkansas Athletics. Maybe we will see Arkansas State, Little Rock, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the schedule in the coming years.

This is the first time since 1950 that Arkansas Men’s basketball has scheduled a regular season game against an in-state school. The Hogs haven’t played UCA since 1947 where Arkansas won the game 59-39.

The Bears (0-3)

Anthony Boone took over the UCA program in the middle of last season as the interim and UCA removed the interim tag in the offseason. The Bears may be 0-3 to start, but they have played some respectable games so far.

UCA played at Memphis and was leading at halftime before losing by 17. The Bears played the Sun Belt favorite Little Rock Trojans to a 3 point game and kept it respectable against a good Saint Louis team.

The Bears shoot the ball very well. They rank 46th in the country at 38.9% as a team from 3.

Rylan Bergersen and Deandre Jones are leading the team in scoring and shooting from beyond the arc this season. Bergersen averaged 17.3 points and 54.5% from 3. Jones averages 13.7 points and 57.1% from 3.

Where teams are beating the Bears is on turnover margin. Through 3 games, UCA is turning the ball over 24.7 times per game. That is the 3rd highest in college basketball.

The Razorbacks (5-0)

This is the type of game that we may see the Arkansas offense really get going again. The offense hasn’t been bad, but once Arkansas builds a big lead they tend to settle. At the beginning of game, the Hogs have been very efficient and then cool down as the game goes on.

There should be plenty of opportunities for easy points by forcing a high amount of turnovers against the Bears today. Arkansas will have a drastic size advantage as well.

Desi Sills hasn’t received much attention, but has been very good to start the season. He is averaging 10.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. All while shooting 55.9% from the field and 43.8% from 3. He has not committed a turnover in 3 of the games. He is a tone-setter and the leader of this team. Eric Musselman has praised his sideline encouragement/coaching of his teammates.

I want to see Arkansas get back to the free throw line at the same rate they were in the first couple games. Force turnovers, get to the basket, and defend the 3. That is the recipe for a satisfying Arkansas win today.

Prediction: Arkansas 89, Central Arkansas 57