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PREVIEW: Central Arkansas @ Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Pennsylvania at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Central Arkansas @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: Central Arkansas Bears
Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Time: 7:00PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network +
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 7-0
All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 4-0

The Bears (1-6)

UCA enters the Atlantic Sun this season and things aren’t looking promising. The truth is that it has little to do with the competition they’ll face. This is just a bad basketball team.

Like many small, low-major schools, UCA is forced to play a lot of bye games away from home early in the season. They’ve done just that and it hasn’t been pretty. Baylor played UCA during the day in front of a couple thousand elementary aged kids. The Baylor Bears would win 92-47.

UCA’s lone win was a huge one. They handed Max Abmas and Oral Roberts a 70-67 loss in Conway. The issue is UCA followed it up with a 27 point loss to a team many would consider to be on the same level as the Bears. You can cut this team some slack because they are extremely young. Freshman guard Camren Hunter is their leading scorer and lone double digit scorer at 11.9 per game. He also leads the team in assists and steals per game.

Former Razorback Darius Hall is a veteran player with high-major experience at DePaul. He’s played with for the Bears and should have an interesting matchup with Au’Diese Toney.

Colin Cooper has been the lone consistent 3-point shooter. Given Arkansas’ struggles early against 3-point shooting, they’ll be keyed in on him.

UCA ranks 327th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 341st in adjusted offensive efficiency. They love to play fast. The Bears sit at 29th in the nation in temp. Arkansas falls right behind them in 32nd. That plays to Arkansas’ advantage. That pace is a big reason why UCA is averaging 16.6 turnovers per game.

The Razorbacks (6-0)

Maybe Central Arkansas is the opponent Arkansas needs to get right in some areas. We thought Penn would be the game where the Hogs would lead from wire to wire. That wasn’t the case. Arkansas built a lead up to 22 points, but let Penn cut it to 10 in the 2nd half. It wasn’t great.

The Hogs dominated the boards and played defense pretty well. Turnovers and a lack of 3-point shooting is what kept the game from getting ugly. Eric Musselman made it clear that they did not expect to struggle with turnovers against a team like Penn.

UCA is the weakest opponent Arkansas will have faced so far with KenPom rating of 339. Maybe this is the game where see the Hogs put together a full 40 minutes. They should dominate on the boards. UCA will have problems scoring the ball as they have scored 70 just once this year. But there is one area where Arkansas has a question mark that is entering concerning levels. 3-point shooting. It’s surprising the way this team has struggled. It’s beginning to be a concerning trend. There’s plenty of time to fix it, but it needs to happen quick. At a certain point, it can become a head game.

Look for Chris Lykes and Devo Davis to get on track. A player with Lykes’ speed will give UCA issues and Devo’s length at the guard spot should cause problems.

Arkansas will take care of business and hopefully, they do it early.

I’ll take the Hogs in a route.

Prediction: Arkansas 90, Central Arkansas 57