It’s time for the SEC opener inside Bud Walton Arena. Missouri comes to town to present the first-ever ranked opponent for Arkansas in a home conference opener. The advantage of a rocking Bud Walton will be in effect tonight for the first of many times this season.
After losing to LSU last week, tonight serves as a pivotal matchup for Musselman and the Razorbacks early in the season. With Auburn and Alabama looming in the distance, a win tonight is all too crucial for Muss’ group of young Razorbacks.
Opponent: Missouri Tigers
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 4. 2023
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Bud Walton Arena - Fayetteville, AR
Line: ARK -7.5
After dominating games since the Maui Invitational, the Razorbacks hit a speed bump last week in Baton Rouge. It is to be expected that this young team will have growing pains, and a narrow loss on the road to open the conference season is no reason to sound the alarms. However, seeing the Hogs struggle at what has been a strength all season was puzzling. Arkansas has utilized its size and physicality all season to shoot a high percentage in the paint and at the line. However, the Hogs shot just 39.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from the line against LSU. Ultimately, a handful of missed free throws down the stretch left the Hogs short at the final buzzer.
The unsure timetable for Nick Smith’s return leaves the Hogs without a pure shooter. Freshman Joseph Pinion is beginning to crack the rotation and can knock down the deep ball consistently. But until either player receives significant minutes, the Hogs must penetrate at a high rate. Look for the Hogs to be more successful at cracking a zone defense tonight to get to the basket.
After receiving a thrashing from Kansas in early December, the Tigers are on an impressive win streak. Dominant performances against Illinois and Kentucky have Dennis Gates’ group riding high into Bud Walton tonight. Guard Kobe Brown is the do-it-all man for the Tigers. Coming into tonight, Brown averages 15.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Putting a lid on Brown will be key to an Arkansas victory tonight. The size of the Tiger backcourt is similar to Arkansas’, which will make for an entertaining game.
- Still no update on Nick Smith Jr.
- The Hogs fell to No. 13 in the latest AP Poll and remain at No. 10 in the NET.
It is worth noting that Trevon Brazile’s surgery was successful last week. Musselman mentioned in his press conference that Brazile is in good spirits and back to participating in the weight room.