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Arkansas vs. Cincinnati Preview

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The Hall Of Fame Classic

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State vs Arkansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas vs. Cincinnati Preview

Opponent: Cincinnati Bearcats
Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Time: 8:30PM CDT
Place: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Missouri
TV/Streaming: ESPN2
All-Time Series: Cincinnati leads series 3-1
All-Time Series at a neutral site: Cincinnati leads 2-1

The Bearcats (5-0)

Cincinnati made a huge statement in last night’s win over Illinois. The game looked to be a blowout win for Illinois early in the game, but first year head coach Wes Miller made some incredible adjustments defensively that led to a route the other direction.

Like we saw against Illinois, the defense is the story for this Cincinnati team. They make things very difficult for their opponents. Through 5 games, the Bearcats are holding opponents to 33.7% shooting from the field and 25.3% from 3. That is good enough for 11th and 33rd in the nation respectively.

They have bought into what Wes Miller is selling. Miller had a really good run at UNC-Greensboro for his first D1 job. He spent 10 seasons there and finished the last 5 with 20+ wins. I can’t believe it took him so long to get a better job. He should be very successful at Cincy.

Like Kansas State, the Bearcats have a player that Arkansas fans will remember well. The starting center for Cincy is Abdul Ado. Ado was a 4 year player at Mississippi State. Ado’s starting role will allow Arkansas to continue to start Connor Vanover. Ado lives in and around the paint. That is a matchup that Vanover can handle.

The offense has been centered around Jeremiah Davenport’s ability to create in iso scenarios. Last night, Davenport was left out to dry in a lot of possessions where would dribble the air out of the ball and then attempt a difficult shot. Arkansas will try to force a lot of the same.

Mike Saunders has been really good off the bench for Cincy. 3-point shooting has been a struggle for them as they shoot just 31.5% from the deep so far.

Cincy’s strength is rebounding. The rotate a lot of big men in. They come in fresh and ready to crash the glass. Arkansas will have to team rebound as always.

The Razorbacks (4-0)

The Razorbacks honestly looked incredible for the first 15 minutes last night. It was by far the basketball they have played thus far. Stifling defense and efficient offense. The forwards, in particular, were dominant.

Arkansas finally shored up the 3-point defense last night. Maybe they have that figured out. Point guard play seems to be the final issue to fix. While the first half was great, the 2nd half was terrible. Devo Davis and JD Notae both had stints running PG and both were very poor. Bruce Weber made some great adjustments and Arkansas had no counter so KSU whittled their way back into the game. It will be interesting to see if Musselman gives KK Robinson a go at PG. Muss was not happy with Robinson on the defensive end last night.

Arkansas wants to run a lot of pick and roll, but PG play is the most important aspect of the pick and roll. They have to get it figured out.

Today, I want to see a complete game from the Hogs. The offense got stagnant, the cutting stopped, and as a result the scoring stopped.

Yesterday was also a very poor shooting night from the Hogs. While there was a lot to be excited about, there is plenty to correct.

The atmosphere was unbelievable last night. The announced attendance was over 9,000. That’s incredible for an early season tournament during Thanksgiving week. When KSU got rolling, it was a like a road game for the Hogs. It was good for them to play in that environment.

Now you play for a trophy so the lights get brighter if the atmosphere won’t be as good tonight. The Cincinnati fans didn’t travel, but they also had the furthest distance to go.

Tonight’s game will be a dog fight. Cincinnati plays at a faster pace than KSU, but this game will be won on who can better pressure the ball and rebound. Both of these teams really take care of the ball so who can force more mistakes? I’ll take the Hogs again.

Prediction: Arkansas 74, Cincinnati 66