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PREVIEW: Arkansas @ Oklahoma State

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NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Oklahoma State Cowboys
Date: Saturday, January 30
Time: 3:00pm
Place: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma
TV/Streaming: ESPN2
All-Time Series: Oklahoma State leads 37-15
All-Time Series: Oklahoma State leads 4-13

The Cowboys 10-4 (4-4 in Big 12)

Oklahoma State was handed a postseason ban for the 2020-21 season by the NCAA for recruiting violations. OSU has appealed the postseason ban and awaits an answer from the NCAA. As long as that appeal process is going on, Oklahoma State is still eligible for postseason play. The Cowboys have been very good this year. Their first losses came by 3 points or less and Baylor beat them by 15 without Cade Cunningham. If a few of those games had gone a different way, OSU would be ranked well within the Top 25.

The Cowboys do a few things extremely well. They can rebound and they get to the free throw line. Oklahoma State ranks 64th in the country in Free Throws Attempted. OSU gets to the foul line so much because they don’t attempt many threes. The Cowboys ranks 268th in 3 pointers attempted. They attempt just 19.8 threes a game on the season. In Big 12 play, that number has been even lower at 17.1 attempts per game.

The projected #1 pick, Cade Cunningham, has been outstanding for OSU. He has missed the past 2 games due to COVID protocols, but is expected to play on Saturday. The freshman phenom is averaging 18.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks. The high school teammate of Moses Moody has been very efficient too. He’s shooting 46.0% from the field and 38.8% from the 3 point line.

The other players to watch are Junior guard Isaac Likekele and freshman guard Rondel Walker. Both have been consistent scorers for the Cowboys.

OSU has one of the faster paces in CBB along with Arkansas. This should be a fun, up and down affair.

The Razorbacks 13-4 (5-4 in SEC)

The Hogs are looking to extend their winning streak to 4 on Saturday. A win would be huge for the Arkansas resume.

It was great to see Connor Vanover and JD Notae get back on track against Ole Miss. Both of those guys had really struggled in recent weeks.

Arkansas needs JD Notae. They need another consistent scorer. A player that can get past the teeth of the defense and create for others. He will be imperative going forward. If Moses Moody and Notae are both playing well then it will be tough to beat Arkansas. Both of those guys bring so much to the table.

I would imagine Jalen Tate will have the assignment of guarding Cade Cunningham, but the Hogs could run a trap similar to what we saw against Auburn’s Sharife Cooper and Ole Miss’ Devontae Shuler. It worked in both instances. Keeping the ball out of Cunningham’s hands won’t be easy though.

Justin Smith looked like he reinjured his ankle against Ole Miss. He missed practice time this week, but is expected to play on Saturday.

Prediction

The keys to the game for Arkansas are to not let Cade Cunningham defeat you, take advantage of OSU’s 4-guard lineup, and rebound well. If Arkansas does those things, then they will win the game. I’ll pick the Razorbacks today. I just have a good feeling about this one.

Arkansas 81, Oklahoma St. 76