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PREVIEW: Texas A&M @ #12 Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Texas A&M Aggies
Date: Saturday, March 6
Time: 4:00PM
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas Leads 103-47
All-Time Series at Arkansas: Arkansas Leads 58-15

Texas A&M Aggies 8-8 (2-7)

What a nightmare season for Buzz Williams and Texas A&M. The COVID bug has bitten the Aggies and hasn’t let go. They went 32 days without playing a game before playing Mississippi State on Wednesday.

MSU has been playing better so I expected the Bulldogs to beat A&M handily. The Aggies held strong and played competitive basketball losing by just.

You feel for Buzz Williams because in year 2 is where you really want to see momentum in a rebuild. Things didn’t work out that way.

A&M has had some disappointing performances from players this year. Savion Flagg has been a great player for the Aggies in season’s past, but he has regressed this year. Jay Jay Chandler underperformed expectations. Jonathan Aku and Jaxson Robinson, both who were offered by Arkansas, have no made strides to contribute yet. An example of the inconsistency Buzz Williams has dealt with is that he has started 12 different players this year. He’s tried everything.

The surprise has been Emanuel Miller. The sophomore has been great! He’s averaging 15.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. He efficient from the field and gets to the free throw line at a high rate. 6-7 and 210 forward will Definitely be matched up with Justin Smith. That matchup will determine the outcome of the game.

Senior Quenton Jackson is another player who has made strides this season compared to last year. He’s averaging 9.7 points on 46.3% shooting and 37.8% from deep.

The A&M offense is one of the worst we’ve seen in recent years. In 9 SEC games, the Aggies are averaging 56.8 points per game while 37.4% from the floor. Both of those stats rank worst in the conference. They also shoot 26.4% from 3 in SEC play and 29.2% on the year which is 334th in the nation.

Arkansas Razorbacks 20-5 (12-4)

It’s time to finish what the Hogs have started. Saturday is the end of the regular season for the Razorbacks. Ending on a 11 game SEC winning streak is an incredible turnaround after dropping 4 out 5 early in January.

Maybe we were too down on the Hogs. Maybe we overreacted. The most important player on the team missed several games and even his return came before he was 100%.

This team of newcomers faced adversity for the first time and crumbled in it. The SEC slate was very front-loaded.

What’s important is that the team is healthy now and has responded in the face of adversity since then.

Remember losing 18-5 in the first half against Mississippi State? Remember Kentucky clawing back to take the lead with less than 20 seconds left? Remember the 7-0 run Alabama went on to start the 2nd half? Remember LSU doing just about anything they wanted in the first in Bud Walton Arena?

Arkansas won all of those games.

For Arkansas to continue the SEC winning streak they’ll need to these 3 things

-Start the game well. Arkansas has been privy to rough starts. Get the offense rolling, lock down on D, and eliminate any hope for A&M.

-Defend the 3. A&M is an abysmal shooting team. Allow them to get open 3s and it could be a competitive game.

-Dominate the glass. A&M is undersized so Arkansas needs to look for 2nd chance opportunities.

Prediction

All Arkansas.

Arkansas 85 Texas A&M 66