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NCAA Tournament: Arkansas vs. Oral Roberts

Texas Tech v Arkansas Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Opponent: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
Date: Saturday, March 27
Time: 6:25PM CDT
Place: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV: TBS
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 11-2
All-Time Series at Neutral Site: Arkansas leads 2-0

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 18-10

Cinderella is still dancing!

Oral Roberts beat 2 seed Ohio State and then came back to beat 7 seed Florida on Sunday. The Golden Eagles are just the 2nd 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.

Florida Gulf Coast back in 2013 is the other 15 seed to go on such a run.

ORU finished 4th in the Summit League, but won their conference tournament. 4th year coach has built a solid program there. He was an assistant under Scott Drew at Baylor and looks to be an up and coming guy for mid major teams to look at hiring in the offseason.

What makes this team is special is their 2 star players.

Guard Max Abmas is leading the country in scoring at 24.6 points per game. The 6-1, 165 facilitator is a special player. He’s very crafty and an absolute sniper from beyond the arc shooting 43.6% from deep.

In fact, the entire ORU team is filled with snipers! They rank 13th in the country in 3 point percentage at 38.5%. Arkansas’ first round opponent, Colgate, was ranked #1 in the country in 3 point shooting.

The other star for ORU is Kevin Obanor. He is averaging 19.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this year. In their 2 tournament games, Obanor has 58 points and 22 rebounds. He’s been awesome.

Where Oral Roberts really struggles is rebounding the ball and defending the paint. In the first matchup with Arkansas, the Hogs had 56 points in the paint and 22 second chance points. That’s getting dominated.

Projected Starting Lineup:

G - Max Abmas – 6-1
G – Carlos Jurgens – 6-5
G – Kareem Thompson – 6-6
F – Francis Lacis – 6-7
F – Kevin Obanor – 6-8

Former Arkansas walk-on RJ Glasper had started each game he was available for ORU this year before injury. He will be unavailable on Saturday.

Glasper is a Forrest City native and walked on at Arkansas one season. He was unable to play due to a shoulder surgery that year. He then transferred to Arkansas Tech and is one of the better players in their history. For his final year of college ball, Glasper transferred to ORU and has made an impact being a full-time starter. I’m curious if he will come back next year for his COVID year. ORU will miss him as he had 14 points against Arkansas back in December.

Oral Roberts will need to shoot exceptionally well and keep Arkansas from getting 2nd chances. Arkansas attempted 13 more field goals than ORU back in December. They can’t afford for that to happen again.

Arkansas Razorbacks 24-6

Arkansas is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996. The whole state breathed a sigh of relief when the buzzer sounded and Arkansas won the game. It’s still surreal to me that we are in this position, but here we are.

When Oral Roberts upset Florida last week, I felt like Arkansas was a shew in for the Elite 8 and more. You can’t assume anything in March, but those were my genuine feelings.

I still feel the same.

Justin Smith has been a monster so far. Jaylin Williams was outstanding against Texas Tech. Moses Moody has done what he does. Devo Davis has been the spark that he always is. Jalen Tate has been cool, calm, and collected.

Arkansas has been the Arkansas we’ve seen all year so far in this tournament.

In the first round, they played a fast pace to take advantage of their athleticism. In the second round, the game was played to Texas Tech’s pace. It was a grind-it-out, defensive battle. Arkansas was willing to play that way and was able to get the win.

No matter the pace, Arkansas has been able to answer the call this season. That’s what happens when you build a deep and versatile roster and Eric Musselman has done just that.

Key matchups:

Justin Smith will definitely be guarding Kevin Obanor. Smith has been the most important player to this team all season. Keeping Obanor in check will be paramount. In the first game, Smith had 22 points and 7 rebounds.

Jalen Tate and Devo Davis will get the assignment on the nation’s leading scorer. Max Abmas will be a handful no matter who defends him. I think Devo is the better matchup here. He’s quicker than Tate is.

Keys to an Arkansas victory:

-Defend the 3. Like Colgate, Oral Roberts has snipers all over the floor. They shoot as good as anyone in the country. You can’t allow them to get hot and make this a game.

-Get to the rack. Oral Roberts doesn’t defend the paint well. Draw fouls and take advantage of 2nd chance points.

-Take care of the ball.

Prediction

The Cinderella run for Oral Roberts was extremely impressive. They have some real momentum to building a powerhouse in the Summit League, but this is not a good matchup for them. Arkansas plays good defense, they rebound well, and they get to the basket. Those are things that will give ORU a lot of problems. I’m taking the Hogs. Justin Smith and Jaylin Williams will have big games!

Arkansas 84 Oral Roberts 70