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GAME #23: Mississippi St. @ Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: Mississippi State Bulldogs
Date: Saturday, February 5, 2022
Time: 7:30PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 34-32
All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 22-8

The Bulldogs – 14-7 (5-3)

The Razorbacks - 17-5 (6-3)

Matchup #2 for these squads and the Hogs are seeking revenge. Ben Howland has been as successful as any SEC coach against Arkansas during his MSU tenure. He’s 7-2 while winning several of those games in Fayetteville. That’s been a sore spot for Hogs fans since Howland’s arrival. MSU obviously isn’t some powerhouse program, but they had have Arkansas’ number for a while now.

Today’s game holds massive weight for both teams. Arkansas is looking to keep rising in NCAAT projections. Quad 2 losses only hurt. Currently, the Hogs are projected in that 8/9 seed line. That’s a spot no one wants to be. Arkansas has to win these types of games to move up.

MSU on the other hands finds themselves on the outside looking in. A win today would be a Quad 1 win for the Bulldogs. That’s just what they need. BWA will be rabid. It won’t be easy.

The first time these teams met up, Tolu Smith was back from injury and had a huge impact on the game. J.D. Notae missed the game for Arkansas with an illness. I thought Arkansas played pretty well in the first half considering it was their first true road game of the year. The ball moved well and effort was there. At that point in the season, we hadn’t seen much of either. The 2nd half was a totally different story. Arkansas couldn’t guard a chair with no wheels. It was painful to watch and MSU would cruise to an easy win.

This is a different Arkansas team now. They are playing their best basketball on this 7-game winning streak. The defense has been extraordinary. Arkansas will need to continue that today. Tolu Smith is listed as questionable as he continues his injury riddled season. His absence would be huge for Arkansas’ game plan. Smith has always been an issue for the Razorbacks, but how he forces the rest of the team matchup is difficult. His absence would allow Jaylin Williams to defense Garrison Brooks instead of Stanley Umude or Trey Wade. Both of those players are good defenders, but sliding every one down is a help.

I hope to see Au’Diese Toney on MSU’s star, Iverson Molinar. We all know J.D. Notae can defend well, but I like the idea of putting the bigger Toney on the assignment. Arkansas needs Notae to stay out of foul trouble so matching him up with Shakeel Moore would give him less opportunities to foul. We should see Trey Wade on D.J. Jeffries and Stanley Umude on Cameron Matthews. Arkansas just matches up so much better if Smith is out and he hasn’t played since January 15th.

In the first matchup, Arkansas surrendered 17 turnovers and gave up 15 offensive rebounds. The rebounding numbers will be better, especially if Smith is out. The Hogs have still had their issues turning the ball over. Today that needs to change. MSU will want to slow the pace and limit possessions so you can’t afford giving the ball away.

Mississippi State is winless on the road this season so it’s hard to imagine they come into a wild BWA and win on Saturday night. Tolu Smith’s absence will prove massive as well. Allowing Jaylin Williams to defend Garrison Brooks makes everyone else’s job much easier. Give me the Hogs

Prediction: Arkansas 74, Mississippi State 67