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PREVIEW: Arkansas @ Vanderbilt

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

Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores
Date: Saturday, January 23
Time: 12:00pm
Place: Memorial Gym, Nashville, Tennessee
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 28-12
All-Time Series at Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt leads 8-7

The Commodores 4-6 (0-4)

Jerry Stackhouse is building. I know you see that 4-6 record and winless in SEC play and thing otherwise, but he really is improving the roster and program. The problem remains that he took over a depleted roster and a program with no relevance. He has a long, long way to go, but the Commodores have been very competitive.

Vandy lost to Kentucky and Mississippi State by a combined 6 points. The Commodores are led by Scotty Pippen Jr. who is the SEC’s 2nd leading scorer. The sophomore is averaging 21.2 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Dylan Disu is a 6-9 sophomore scoring 13.3 points and hauling 8.4 rebounds per game.

Several players can shoot from range for this team. Pippen at 35.1%, Disu at 38.1%, Myles Shute at 46.4%, Jordan Wright at 58.3%, and Trey Thomas at 39.5%. They are 3rd in SEC play at 36.9% from the 3 as a team. That will be key for them in Saturday’s matchup.

Vanderbilt really struggles defending the paint. Teams are shooting 52.9% from 2 on them. Arkansas will look to take advantage of that by getting to the basketball at will.

Arkansas native Isaac McBride is in his first season with Vandy. He’s appeared in 7 games for the Commodores.

Vanderbilt must stay in front of the Arkansas guards, keep the Hogs from having 2nd chance points, and hit their 3s.

The Razorbacks 11-4 (3-4)

Was Wednesday an anomaly? We will find out Saturday. Arkansas desperately needed a win and desperately needed to gain some confidence back.

Can these Hogs go a run. This stretch reminded me of the 2016-17 team. That team was full of talent, but had a really rough stretch.

That stretch went like this:

-28 point loss to Oklahoma State
-18 point win over Alabama
-5 point loss to Missouri
-13 point loss to Vanderbilt

That Missouri was terrible. They won only 8 games that entire season. The Vanderbilt game was at Bud Walton and they held the Hogs to 59 points.

Arkansas then went to Baton Rouge to face LSU. The Tigers were really bad that season. They won just 2 SEC games. The Hogs started the game terribly and were down by 9 at halftime, but they responded! Arkansas would win the game by 8!

As a fanbase, we questioned the makeup of the team. We questioned Mike Anderson. We lost all hope.

That comeback win began a streak of winning 8 of 9 games. Arkansas would make the SEC Tournament Championship game.

I wonder if this year’s team will do the same thing. Will this start a run of wins? The schedule is very favorable going forward for the Hogs, but can this team play with consistency to get it done?

Eric Musselman said this week that he will slimming down his rotation. He’s found the players he trusts and will stick with them. I believe Devo Davis and Jaylin Williams will be a part of that 7. Can those true freshman with limited experience consistently produce? Time will tell, but the Hogs need them to do so. Williams was a huge part in the win over Auburn. Davis brings constant effort and energy.

Prediction: Arkansas 83, Vanderbilt 71