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PREVIEW: Southern @ Arkansas

Gunner Rathbun

Opponent: Southern Jaguars
Date: Wednesday, December 9
Time: 7:00pm
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network +
All-Time Series: Arkansas Leads 2-0

2020 struck again and here we are preparing for a game that wasn’t officially scheduled until Monday night. Arkansas was supposed to play on the road for the first time this year on Tuesday night at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane had a player test positive for COVID-19 and the game was cancelled.

As a result, the mad dash to find a game began for the Arkansas staff. On Monday, fans speculated on Twitter who might the new opponent might be. Some wanted SMU, others suggested Little Rock, and a few crazy ones were begging for St. John’s.

Arkansas Director of Recruiting Michael Musselman tweeted what the process is like finding an opponent during a pandemic:

The Jaguars 0-2

Southern comes to Bud Walton coming off a strong season in the SWAC. The teams of the SWAC often times do not play a home game until conference play start. They spend November and December playing buy games that help fund their athletic department. The Jaguars were able to finish .500 and 2nd in the SWAC last year despite that. It is a rare feat in the SWAC to finish above .500, but the Jaguars did it!

This year’s team was picked to finish 2nd behind Texas Southern in the SWAC. Through 2 games, they lost an overtime game on the road at North Carolina Central and got blown out by #3 Iowa.

The starters for the Jaguars will likely be 6-4 Ahsante Shivers, 6-6 Damiree Burns, 6-0 Jayden Saddler, 6-2 Lamarcus Lee, and 6-7 Kirk Parker. Burns is the 2nd leading scorer for Southern at 12.0 points per game, but he has struggled with foul trouble that has kept his minutes to just 19.5 per game. Whoever he is guarding him needs to take advantage of his inability to stay in front of defenders and get to the rim.

Where Southern has struggled so far has been 3-point defense and turning the ball over. Teams have shot 48.8% from 3 against the Jaguars. A team like Arkansas will take advantage of that.

The Razorbacks 4-0

It has been refreshing to see this Arkansas team rebound the ball so well. Arkansas currently ranks 4th in the nation in rebounds per game at 48.8. The defense has been swarming. The Hogs are averaging 5.8 blocks per game and holding teams to 32.9% from the field.

The offense continues to improve too. Here are just some of the offensive statistics and where it ranks in the country:

FG%: 48.0%(68th)
3P%: 37.6%(71st)
FTA: 22.5(94th)
FT%: 74.4%(67th)

The chemistry is growing within this group. We’ve known that it would be the biggest hurdle this year, but they are overcoming it.

If there was ever a season to play a weaker schedule, it is this year! These weaker opponents are giving the freshman time to figure things out. Moses Moody has been special the past 2 games and he continues to lead the team in scoring. Jaylin Williams is a rebounding machine.

Jalen Tate has improved each game. Connor Vanover and Justin Smith are steady.

Tonight, I want to see Arkansas shoot the ball well, force 18 or more turnovers, and get to the free throw line at a high rate.

Prediction: Arkansas 94, Southern 59