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GAME #22: Arkansas @ Georgia Preview

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas @ Georgia Preview

Opponent: Georgia Bulldogs
Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Time: 6:00PM CDT
Place: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Georgia
TV/Streaming: ESPNU
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 24-16
All-Time Series in Athens: Georgia leads 10-6

The Bulldogs – 6-15 (1-7)

Year 4 of the Tom Crean era may be the worst yet. While he hasn’t built a roster worthy of winning, Crean has had some bad luck with injuries this season. Leading returner P.J. Horne tore his ACL before the season every started. Then 9 games in, starting forward and double digit scorer Jailyn Ingram also had his year cut short due to injury.

Crean just hasn’t been able to hold onto talent. After his 2nd year, RayShaun Hammonds decided to go pro which was a surprising move. He went undrafted and is now playing overseas. Then last year, they lost Sahvir Wheeler to Kentucky, Tye Fagan to Ole Miss, Toumani Camara to Dayton, and K.D. Johnson to Auburn. All of those players have significant roles on their new teams just like they would have if they stayed at Georgia.

Kario Oquendo has been a fun addition though. He’s a high-flying highlight maker. He leads the team in scoring and is very efficient inside the arc. Braelen Bridges has been a nice piece as well.

Georgia is one of the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers and in committing them. That’s not a recipe for success at any level. One area you can credit the Bulldogs is getting to free throw line. Like Arkansas, they have one of the highest FTA in the nation.

What Georgia must do is limit 2nd chance opportunities and turning the ball over. The few shots Arkansas takes, the better chance the Bulldogs will have. They also need to hit some 3s. Noah Baumann and Jaxson Etter are really good 3 point shooters, but if others start hitting some then look out.

The Razorbacks – 16-5 (5-3)

Six straight for the Hogs. Almost unbelievable when I think back to that loss to Vanderbilt at home. Arkansas has figured things out on defense first and foremost. The offense is still hard to watch at times, but how they go about things is so much better.

The ball movement is better than it has been all year. J.D. Notae has become a down-hill player first which has opened up cutting lanes and open shots for the others on the floor. When Notae gets easy baskets around the rim, it allows him to get off cleaner jump shots. Where Notae goes, this team goes. It’s impossible to not see the difference when he is off the floor. Devo Davis is slowly improving in the backup PG role. Trey Wade has become a constant contributor.

Things are just coming together for this team, but on the horizon there are tougher times coming. The Hogs finish off an easier half of the schedule this week. Obviously, we would expect them to take care of business tonight. Mississippi State at home on Saturday is no pushover, but with how they have been playing Arkansas should win. Then things get real. The #1 team in the country in Auburn comes to BWA then a road game in Tuscaloosa. I don’t care how you do it, but from a resumé standpoint, it would be incredible to find a way to win one of those games.

Despite what is on the horizon, the Hogs must take it one game at a time. That starts with tonight’s contest. Arkansas needs another good start. Keep the defensive energy high and this Georgia team should struggle to score. Take care of the basketball. Crash the glass. I think the Hogs can get a lot of 2nd chance points tonight.

Prediction: Arkansas 79, Georgia 66