The Arkansas Razorbacks and Auburn Tigers will go head to head next Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena. A much-anticipated midseason match-up between two stellar. Auburn’s season is going extremely well thus far, winning 19 games in a row. Having just survived a scare at Georgia winning 74-72, Auburn is now 22-1 and ranked #1. Their only loss this season was back in late November to UCONN by a score of 115-109 in 2OT.
Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl has his team playing as well as any team in the NCAA. ESPN’s Jay Bilas said, “Bruce just got a lifetime contract. I knew Bruce would do well at Auburn, 2019 Final Four, a #1 ranking this year. I think it’s been one of the remarkable coaching jobs I’ve seen at my time at ESPN.” A big reason for Auburn’s impressive season is true freshman Jabari Smith. At 6’10” from Fayetteville, GA Smith will likely be a one-and-done. Averaging 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a game, Smith is widely considered a top prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. Coach Pearl was recruiting him for years before Smith stepped on campus at Auburn.
However, the Arkansas Razorbacks might have something to say about all of that. Just like Auburn, the Hogs have been playing very well as of late themselves. Winning their last seven games in a row. With several new guys on the team, it took some time to build trust. It also took some time for team chemistry to come around. “The chemistry is coming together really well. We know with the strength of schedule, we are going to hit a bump at some point,” said Hog head coach Eric Musselman. That bump might be Auburn, that bump might not be Auburn. We will find that out soon enough.
Razorback forward Jaylin Williams’ development from last year to this year has been outstanding. Williams is averaging a double-double the last 8 games. And it will likely be Williams who will be matched up guarding Auburn’s Jabari Smith. Obviously, how well Hog PG JD Notae plays will be critical as well.
Leading the SEC in scoring and steals per game, Notae is a dangerous weapon on offense and defense. Razorback forward Stanley Umude’s performance last time out was a season-high 31 points 4 rebounds 4 assists in a big win at Georgia. Another guy playing stellar lately is Hog senior Au’Diese Toney. A Pittsburgh transfer, Toney has been more assertive on offense last five or six games. Taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls.
If you like college basketball, be sure to tune in Tuesday night. It’s going to be a barn burner. Bud Walton Arena will be rowdy and rocking. Get your popcorn hot and ready. The show starts at 6:00 PM CT.
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