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GAME #27: Tennessee @ Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: Tennessee Volunteers
Date: Saturday, February 19, 2022
Time: 3:00PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: ESPN
All-Time Series: Tennessee leads 23-21
All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 11-4

The Volunteers – 19-6 (10-3)

Rick Barnes has another loaded roster in Knoxville this year and they have been the hottest team in the SEC as of late. The Volunteers are coming off of their biggest win of the year. They hosted Kentucky on Tuesday night and controlled the game from tip-off. It was the signature win that Tennessee needed. The Vols have beaten a short-handed LSU team and a lackluster North Carolina team. The metrics love them and now they have huge W on their resumé.

Tennessee has 3 guards that do it all. Hog fans will remember Santiago Vescovi who is now in his 3rd year as a Volunteer. He is currently leading the team in scoring and shoots very efficiently from 3. Freshman phenom Kennedy Chandler is just .5 a point behind Vescovi for the team lead in points, but is the best distributor at 4.6 assists per game. Zakai Zeigler is the 3rd piece of the puzzle. The tiny guy can go! He’s been the biggest surprise on this team and maybe the biggest surprise in the SEC.

The guards are the key for this team. Tennessee has some size and experience to throw at you, but it all begins and ends with the guards.

Rebounding will be a huge key on Saturday. Tennessee’s leading rebounder Olivier Nkamhuoa is now out for the season following a knee. The Vols have the size to replace him, but anytime you lose a starter it hurts.

Tennessee is winless this season Q1 opportunities away from their home floor. Satuday’s game at Arkansas is just that. A Q1 game away from home.

The Razorbacks – 20-6 (9-4)

Arkansas comes into Saturday’s game with all kinds of hype. There will be a bevy of former Hogs, a Future Hog(Jordan Walsh), and a 5-star visitor at the game. Arkansas cannot let the hype get to them. Tennessee is no slouch at all. Rick Barnes is an experienced coach and their roster is full of players who have been through it. They’ve played in hostile environments before.

There are 3 things that are absolutely paramount to Arkansas win on Saturday. 1. Get in the paint. Arkansas is a much better team when they get past the teeth of the defense for paint touches. Even if the driver passes out for an open 3, Arkansas seems to hit those 3s at a much higher rate. 2. Take care of the ball. Tennessee has been one of the best teams in the country at turning opponent’s over. Turnovers have been an issue for Arkansas this season. Today cannot be one of those days. 3. Rebound. Often times when a team gets an offensive rebound it leads to an open 3 on a kick out. Tennessee is the not the team to allow to do that. They have very capable shooters. Au’Diese Toney creating 2nd chance points at the rim or free throw line could be huge tomorrow.

Given what we saw against Auburn, I can only imagine what a Saturday afternoon crowd will be like with all this build-up. It will truly be a special event.

Tennessee has played 3 NCAA Tournament caliber teams that defense is their strength. A healthy LSU, Texas Tech, and Texas. While Arkansas will play at a faster pace than those teams, I think the result is the same. A Tennessee loss. It will be close. It will be a tough, physical game. Give me the Hogs.

Prediction: Arkansas 70, Tennessee 65