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GAME 30: LSU @ Arkansas Preview

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NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AF) — The calendar has rolled onto March, and with that comes the wild upsets of tournament play and buzzer-beaters that either continue seasons or end them.

Before we get there, though, the Razorbacks have two regular-season games left on their schedule. Tonight, the LSU Tigers come into Bud Walton Arena looking for revenge after taking a loss to the Hogs in Baton Rouge.

This is the last game of the season inside Bud Walton Arena.

LSU @ Arkansas Preview:

Opponent: LSU Tigers

Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Time: 8 p.m. CDT

Place: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Arkansas

TV/Streaming: ESPN

All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 39-34

All-Time Series in Fayetteville: Arkansas leads 21-8

What to expect from LSU

At 20-9, LSU is likely safe to enter the NCAA Tournament regardless of the outcome of this game, but look for Will Wade’s squad to be aggressive on both ends of the court. There is still a lot for the Tigers to play for in the final week of the regular season.

Right now, the Tigers sit at eighth in the SEC standings, with just one game separating them from Alabama in fifth place. If they can finish out the season on a high note, it could mean the difference between finishing fifth in the conference and finishing in tenth.

Offensively, the Tigers have Missouri transfer, Xavier Pinson, back on the court, after an injury forced him to the sideline the last time these two teams matched up. He is currently averaging 10.3 points per game and shooting just over 38% on the season.

Just 6 days ago, Pinson’s finished with 26 points against Kentucky, where he hit seven shots from beyond the arc.

As it seems to be the case every time Arkansas has played LSU since the Nolan days, the Hogs will need to keep Darius Days in check. Days is a strong rebounder and a decent threat from beyond the arc as well. (Yes, I know Days has not actually been at LSU for more than 20 years. It just feels like it.)

A senior from Raleigh, Florida, Days is averaging 13.1 points per game on 42% shooting from the field. Tack on an average of 7.7 rebounds per game, and Jaylin Williams will have his hands full.

Differences from the last matchup

Both teams look markedly different from the last time they matched up. For the Hogs, it seems that almost everything has changed.

The last time these two teams matched up, Arkansas was sitting at 1-3 in conference play, after losses to Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State and a 44-point win against Missouri.

After their convincing victory in Baton Rouge, the Hogs have won 11 of their last 12, including wins over #1 Auburn, #6 Kentucky, and a road win in Florida that hasn’t been done since Nolan Richardson was roaming the sidelines.

Every member of the team has stepped up throughout conference play, with guys like Stanley Umude flexing his offensive muscles, averaging 11.2 points per game and JD Notae averaging 19.1.

Kamani Johnson has also come on strong in conference play as well, but in ways most don’t see. He doesn’t show up in the stat column as an eye-catcher, but the hustle and tenacity with which he plays brings a level of energy that the rest of the team will want to match.

Keys to Victory for the Hogs

To win this game, Arkansas is really going to need to play their brand of basketball. They cannot rely on a guy like Notae to do all of the scoring himself. Instead, they will need multiple scoring threats to move the ball to find open shots.

They will also need to pound the glass and limit the amount of second-chance shots LSU is able to take. Right now, Arkansas is 59th in the nation in rebounding, averaging 38.7 per game. LSU is 89th, but only slightly behind Arkansas, averaging 37.6 per game.

In keeping with limiting second-chance points for the Tigers, Arkansas is going to need to limit turnovers. The Hogs currently average 12.4 turnovers per game, which is higher than what Coach Musselman would like.

Still, if they can keep that number manageable, and limit the points off turnovers, Arkansas has a high chance to come out of the game with a win.

Prediction: Arkansas wins, 76-69

For more coverage of Arkansas sports, give me a follow on Twitter @DanFair88!!