Alabama will meet the Arkansas Razorbacks having come off of two straight road wins at Auburn and Kentucky. The win streak is at 6 overall and the Tide finds itself alone at the top of the SEC standings. Tip is set for tomorrow at 2:30 CT.
The Opponent: Arkansas comes into the contest with the same record as Alabama at 10-3. The Hogs were undefeated in preseason play but their non-conference schedule was lackluster at best. Things have been very different for Arkansas during SEC play as the team stands at 2-3 coming off a dismantling at the hands of LSU. A loss that Coach Oats laments as he expects Arkansas to lock back in after the loss. Eric Musselman’s squad is expected to be without the services of Justin Smith. Smith leads the team in rebounds at 7 per game. Alabama could have a chance to steal a few extra second chance points if it continues to bring the energy on the boards. Arkansas averages 87 PPG while only allowing 69 .
Players to Watch: In regards to Arkansas, it’s hard to ignore the literal elephant in the room-Conor Vanover. At 7’3 Vanover is just as much a shooting threat as he is in the interior. It’s Moses Moody that leads the Hogs in scoring at 18 PPG and he can score in bursts.
With the absence of Jordan Bruner, Alabama will be depending on Alex Reese and James Rojas to continue their solid play while getting some extra minutes. Either of the 2 could find themselves on Vanover so both will also need to defend without fouling.
My Thoughts: While Arkansas will be missing Smith, Alabama could be without more than just Bruner. Coach Oats has stated that both Jahvon Quinerly and Herb Jones can play in an “as needed” role. My feeling is that both will be needed-especially if the game is close in the closing minutes. I disagree with Coach Oats in his opinion of catching Arkansas at the wrong time. Something is not clicking right now and the absence of Smith doesn’t help the Hogs. John Petty and Jaden Shackleford are getting locked in. I think it continues tomorrow.
Prediction: Alabama 79 Arkansas 70