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PREVIEW: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma

NCAA Basketball: Charlotte at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

#12 Arkansas vs. Oklahoma Preview

Opponent: Oklahoma Sooners
Date: Saturday, December 11, 2021
Time: 12:30PM CDT
Place: BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
TV/Streaming: ESPN2
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 16-12
All-Time Series at Neutral Site: Arkansas leads 5-0

The Sooners (7-2)

OU comes into Saturday’s contest ending a very tough stretch of games. The Sooners lost their first game of the year against a good Utah State team then defeated UCF and upset Florida. Their last game was on Wednesday night when they lost to a short-handed Butler team at home in overtime. It was a disappointing loss for OU and a game they should have won.

Tanner Groves is the focus of this team. First year Head Coach Porter Moser brought in a slew of transfers to a depleted roster. Groves scored over 30 for Eastern Washington in the NCAA Tournament last year and he’s continued his high production this year.

Groves causes matchup issues for what has been Arkansas’ consistent starting lineup. He can space the floor and that causes problems for Conner Vanover. This will be a game where we see a lot more Stanley Umude.

The most interesting potential matchup of the day will be Jalen Hill and Au’Diese Toney. If Arkansas sticks with Vanover in the starting lineup, we likely won’t see this matchup early one. Once Musselman goes to Umude over Vanover then we could see it. Both players rebound extremely well. Toney with 6.8 rebounds a game and Hill with 6.2 rebounds per game. Both are listed at 6’6”. Both have been incredibly efficient scoring the ball. Toney at 69.5% from the field and Hill at 67.4% from the field. Whichever player wins that matchup for their team may prove to be the deciding factor in the game.

Duke transfer Jordan Goldwire and veteran Umoja Gibson are also key pieces for Moser. OU doesn’t get a lot of production from their bench. In fact, the leading scorer off the bench, C.J. Noland, averages just 4.9 points per game.

Oklahoma is a smaller team and has no rim protection. Arkansas has made a living on points in the paint. The Sooners will play at a deliberate pace as they rank 246th in tempo versus Arkansas at #20.

The Razorbacks (9-0)

Arkansas faces its’ most important game to date on Saturday. Oklahoma is better than both Kansas State and Cincinnati. They are more talented, they are well-coached, and the analytics like them more. This is a game that will mean something on the Arkansas resume come March.

Because of the matchup issues Groves causes, Stanley Umude needs another great game for the Hogs. He has played better of late and has been more aggressive. Depending on matchups, he could have a smaller defense on him at times.

Jaylin Williams will be a huge factor in today’s game. His defense on Groves, how well he rebounds, and his role in keeping the ball moving on offense will be everything. Jaylin Williams is the most important player on this team and if he has a good day tomorrow then I like the Razorbacks.

The atmosphere is set to be a great one. Tulsa sits in the middle of the two campuses and fans will travel. Arkansas is ranked #12 and fans love neutral site games within driving distance. Oklahoma has a new coach that has the fanbase excited. It should be a true neutral site game.

Prediction: Arkansas 73, Oklahoma 67