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GAME #24: Auburn @ Arkansas

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn @ Arkansas Preview

Opponent: Auburn Tigers
Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Time: 6:00PM CDT
Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas
TV/Streaming: ESPN2
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 36-20
All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 22-5

The Tigers – 22-1 (10-0)

The Razorbacks – 18-5 (7-3)

These types of games happen 3 maybe 4 times a year if you are lucky. The anticipation builds all day. Your heartrate is even accelerated. The thought of a wild crowd and a great game of basketball. You just can’t beat it.

Tonight is one of those nights. If you cheer for a program that lacks relevancy then these opportunities don’t arise. For Arkansas, we’ve had several of these games over the last few years. Tonight’s is definitely the biggest with #1 Auburn coming to BWA.

The students elected to enforce a white out as we have seen done before and it is sure to be an incredible environment.

Auburn is without a doubt the best team in the country. They are winners of 19 straight and come into tonight’s game with a lot of good wins. Their lone loss was a wild one in the Bahamas to UCONN. The game went to double overtime. Since then, Auburn has taken care of business.

There’s talent all over the roster. The Tigers leading returner was Allen Flanigan. The Little Rock native was outstanding last season. He missed the first half of the year with an injury and has been far from himself. Despite Flanigan stepping back a bit, Auburn hasn’t missed a beat.

The Tigers deploy an incredible frontcourt with the best rim protector in the country in UNC transfer Walker Kessler + the potential #1 overall pick in the 2022 draft, Jabari Smith.

Starting PG Zep Jasper is doubtful for tonight’s game as he continues to battle a non-covid illness. Wendell Green has been a star off the bench and will step into that role easily.

Georgia transfer K.D. Johnson is the heart and soul of this team and fanbase. He is a lightning bolt.

Arkansas must limit 2nd chance opportunities. This team is as physical as we have seen at Arkansas in a long, long time. The Hogs must win the physicality battle. Get to the free throw line and get Kessler in foul trouble.

Auburn’s ability to protect the paint creates a need for the Hogs to hit a few threes as well. If Arkansas can make 5-7 threes while doing a decent job at getting to the foul line and scoring around the basket then they will have a chance.

Where Arkansas has to feel good is playing this game in Bud Walton Arena. It’s Basketball Palace of Mid-America. The place will be packed, but it is deeper than that. While Auburn has won, their performances on the road have been not great as a whole. Obviously, winning is that matters, but stay with me here for a second. Arkansas is one of the hottest teams in the country that has found its’ identity. Bud Walton Arena holds 19,000 and when at its’ best is the best atmosphere in the SEC.

Auburn has not performed very well on the road as a whole. They did beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa plus a double-digit win against USCe. Aside from that, it has been tight games. That’s part of being in the SEC. Road games are so difficult. The difference in actual play at home and away has been a bit concerning though.

Arkansas is hot and has BWA behind them. Auburn could be this year’s team of destiny.

Either way, we are in for a great night.

I’ll take Auburn in a close one. Their depth is great and they give some matchup problems for Arkansas.

Prediction: Arkansas 72, Auburn 76