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GAME #18: South Carolina @ Arkansas Preview

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: South Carolina Gamecocks
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Time: 6:00PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 21-15
All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 11-5

The Gamecocks – 10-6 (1-3)

Frank Martin still loves ugly basketball, but he has changed his way to go about it in recent years. In the best years of Martin’s tenure at SC, the Gamecocks would play very slow and usually have a ton of size down low in the paint. That’s changed.

Martin now employs a much faster pace and tries to uses athleticism. It hasn’t worked out in terms of wins, but it is easier on the eyes. SC ranks 50th in tempo. Arkansas ranks 14th. Tonight will be a fast paced affair.

This season has been one of disappointment so far. It has gone differently than most expected. There weren’t high expectations for this team, but the projected stars have been quite the opposite. Keyshawn Bryant was the leading returner and was a great piece last year. He’s been just the opposite this year. He’s playing off the bench and averaging just 16.7 minutes a game. Another solid returner Jermaine Cousinard is playing just 21 minutes per game.

Transfers Erik Stevenson and James Reeve V are the lone double digit scorers. Musselman the staff contacted Stevenson two summers ago when he transferred from Wichita State to Washington. Reese played against the Hogs when he played at North Texas. So the leaders of this team are guys that the Arkansas staff is familiar with.

Stevenson hasn’t shot the ball as well as he is capable of, but Reese is hitting from deep at a high clip. The Hogs must not let him get hot.

The Razorbacks – 12-5 (2-3)

Arkansas finally has their signature win and seem to be back on track. The monster win at LSU on Saturday was so satisfying. The Hogs played their best defense of the entire season in the final minutes and hit several clutch shots.

I won’t lie, it gave me belief in this team again. LSU has been outstanding this year and to win in Baton Rouge without the head coach is incredible.

Arkansas has now made up for the Vanderbilt loss at home. They need another huge win or two to make up for the Hofstra blunder in North Little Rock.

The Razorbacks cannot afford to slip up though. They need to win the next 6 games. All of them are very winnable. 4 at home and 2 on the road. Are we about to see a big winning streak like we did last year? Time will tell.

The most interesting part about this season has been the Arkansas staff searching for their best lineup combinations. We all know how Musselman loves to play small ball. Truthfully, Arkansas has been best when it has gone big this year. I don’t expect that was something Musselman saw coming. There were times on Saturday when Au’Diese Toney was playing the 2.

The key for the Razorbacks tonight will be a quick start like they had against Missouri. Frank Martin and South Carolina beat Arkansas in BWA just 2 years ago. You want to get yourself in a rhythm early. SC wants to junk things up. That’s how they have always played under Frank Martin.

One way to ensure you start off well is to take care of the basketball and crash the boards. I think Arkansas does that tonight and cruises to push the SEC win streak to 3.

Prediction: Arkansas 78, South Carolina 65