SEC – Big 12 Challenge
Coming off of back to back conference losses, the Razorbacks welcomed the upstart TCU Horned Frogs to town for an inter-conference showdown. The Hogs have had an impressive start to their season, only losing four of their first 19 games. Arkansas was picked to finish 11th in the SEC, but they look to be on track to surpass that mark by a good margin. They are not the only team exceeding expectations however. The Frogs were originally picked to finish last in the Big 12 this season. However, they came into Bud Walton with only five losses under their belt through 18 games. This SEC – Big 12 challenge would truly be the battle of over achievers.
Razorbacks win the Battles within the War
After the Hogs dropped their fourth loss against Mississippi State, I did some surface level digging on the stat battle differences between wins and losses. Basically, it was a look at the largest disparities in stats between when the Hogs win and when they lose. These stats included 3P%, rebound margin, free throw attempts, turnovers, assists, and individual efficiency. In the game against TCU, these categories shaped up as follows.
In losses, the Razorbacks have shot only 28% from three point range, as opposed to 32% in wins. Against TCU, the Hogs shot 66% from deep. This includes a perfect 3/3 game from Desi Sills.
The Razorbacks have been outrebounded in nearly every single game they’ve played this year. However, the total margin has been indicative of whether they win or lose. In wins, the Hogs only average a margin of -4.7, while losses have entailed a staggering -18.0 rebound margin. In the victory over TCU, the Hogs were only outrebounded by 10 while matched up against a 6’11, 250 lbs center.
Free Throw Attempts
In their four losses this year, the Hogs have yet to lose by more than seven points. In three out of four losses, the Hogs have shot eight less free throws than their opponents. Eight less FTs. Seven point losses. You can do the math. In the TCU win, the Hogs attempted five more free throws than the Horned Frogs. They also made five more throws, giving them a 72% mark compared the Frogs 65%.
In each of the Hogs’ four losses, they have either lost or tied the total turnover battle. In the win over TCU, the Hogs only turned the ball over 12 times while forcing 19 turnovers from TCU.
In three out of four losses this season, the Razorbacks lost or tied in total assists. Against TCU, the team accounted for 14 assists, good for three more than their opponents.
Through four losses, there were seven times that a player played at least 19 minutes, attempted at least 3 shots, and still shot worse than 30% from the field. In the victory against the Horned Frogs, every player that attempted three shots converted at least 35% of them. In fact, everyone other than Mason Jones (36%) shot better than 50% from the field!
Razorbacks Rising Confidence
After two consecutive losses, and with sharp shooter Isaiah Joe on the bench, Coach Musselman was all but forced to shake up the starting lineup. Not only was Jalen Harris inserted as Joe’s replacement, but Reggie Chaney was also inserted ahead of sophomore guard Desi Sills for added height. Sills shot 46% from deep in his freshman season. However, he had struggled through the first 18 games of this season, entering the contest against TCU only shooting 21.3% from three point range. Coming off the bench for the first time this season may have provided just the spark that Sills needed. He finished with 18 points, two off of his season high, and shot a perfect 3/3 from deep. The Hogs just buried a good team without one of their best players. With Isaiah Joe returning from injury, Reggie Chaney showing more maturity, and Desi Sills gaining his confidence, the Hogs have a chance to make a strong run in conference play.
The Razorbacks will stay at home for a midweek showdown against SEC East opponent South Carolina (11-8, 3-3). This matchup may prove to be the best for the Hogs, as the Gamecocks’ leading rebounder is a 6’6 forward only averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. The Razorbacks have found ways to win while getting out rebounded night after a night. Who knows how well they can perform against a team that does not boast a monster in the paint. Not to mention they will be playing in front of their rowdy home crowd for the second game in a row.
vs South Carolina – 11-8 (3-3)
@ Alabama – 12-7 (4-2)
vs #16 Auburn – 17-2 (4-2)
@ Missouri – 9-10 (1-5)
@ Tennessee – 12-7 (4-2)
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