BUFFALO, NY.— Arkansas survived and advanced in their first round matchup against a very hot Vermont team. That’s all you need to do once you hit the NCAA Tournament. This round, Arkansas draws the New Mexico State Aggies fresh off an upset in the 5/12 game against UConn.
#4 ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS VS #12 New Mexico State Aggies
Date: Saturday, March 19, 2022
Time: 7:40 PM CDT
Place: KeyBank Center-Buffalo, NY
TV/Streaming: TNT/CBS Sports
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 2-0
Arkansas Tournament History:
All-time Record: 46-33
First round record: 18-8
The Aggies – 27-6
The story is a little different from Vermont’s on Thursday. The Aggies have only won their past four games and Western Athletic Conference tournament. The toast of the Tournament so far is Teddy Allen. The 6’6 Junior ripped the Huskies apart on Thursday to a tune of 37 points and pulling in 6 rebounds.
Allen, a junior, is averaging a solid 20 points per game and is arguably the Aggies’ best player. Allen will have his work cut out for him though as Arkansas’ head coach, Eric Musselman focuses on taking away his opponents best player. Many fans and media have picked Arkansas to lose again due to the emergence of “Timmy Buckets.” Word did get to Musselman however and he had this to say on Friday:
“He’s really good, but I’ve also game prepped for Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.” - Musselman on New Mexico State’s Teddy Allen— Pig Trail Nation (@PigTrailNation) March 18, 2022
Don’t be confused because he’s not saying Allen isn’t a great player because he is. Musselman is loosely saying, “I’ve coached against all these NBA guys, too. We’ll be prepared to stop him because that’s what we will need to do to win.
Allen’s partner in crime is Sir Jabari Rice only scored 9 points in 35 minutes on Thursday. The Razorbacks are tough defensively so a second viable option for the Aggies will need to show up and be the guy in case Allen is taken out of the equation on the offensive end.
The Razorbacks – 26-8
Arkansas, winners of 16 of their last 19 games survived a scare from Vermont on Thursday night. JD Notae didn’t have his best game and had to sit throughout the first half and early in the second due to foul trouble.
Luckily, the March Madness version of Devo Davis (14 points vs Vermont) came alive at the right time for the Razorbacks as he helped the Arkansas offense afloat in the first half.
Stanley Umude is having an exceptional finish to his one-year Razorback career. A graduate transfer from South Dakota who had never played in an NCAA Tournaent game looked like a post season expert on Thursday night. Umude finished with a team high 21 points and helped keep the Hogs away from being upset in the first round.
The Razorback defense will likely have Au’Diese Toney guarding Allen of the Aggies due to his versatility and ability to defend anyone on the floor.
Jaylin Williams had another double-double against Vermont but how will he deal with the added size of New Mexico State? The Aggies have two very big men down low in William McNair (6’10 265 pounds) and Yuat Alok (6’11 225 pounds). If Williams and company can keep those two from pulling in offensive rebounds and allowing Allen to reset his offense that could be the winning move for Arkansas.
On the other hand, the Huskies were able to exploit the Aggies around the basket while on offense. UConn’s RJ Cole was able to drive the lane continually with success. Arkansas can do the same thing as they love to draw fouls driving the basketball. The Hogs rank in the top five nationally in both free throw attempts and makes.
If this game is close with three to four minutes remaining and New Mexico State in foul trouble, the Razorbacks have the edge to pull away from the charity stripe.
Prediction: Arkansas 82, New Mexico State 73
Jacob is the managing editor of Arkansas Fight. You can follow him on Twitter @jacobscottdavis and listen to his podcast, The Hawg Talk, on all platforms.