Commodores Limp into Fayetteville
Before facing the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, the Commodores of Vanderbilt lost their last three games in a row. However, two of these games included an overtime thriller against SMU, and a four-point loss to #4 ranked Auburn. This would not be the case against Arkansas however as Vanderbilt would be without their leading scorer, Nesmith, and leading rebounder, Brown. Scotty Pippen Jr., son of former Central Arkansas Bear Scottie Pippen, showed flashes of his potential early in the game. It was to no avail though as the Commodores struggled to find consistent scoring from anyone. Saben Lee led them in scoring off the bench with 17 points, while Maxwell Evans provided 16 points, all in the first half. Despite only trailing 34-28 at halftime, the explosive Hogs were too much for the Commodores to overcome. They fell for the 4th straight game by a score of 75-55.
Razorbacks Senior Hits Career High
Throughout the season, the Hogs have been known to share the ball and get most of the starters involved in the offense. It is no secret however, that the team generally lives and dies by how well either or both of Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe performs. However, against Vanderbilt, the star-studded duo combined for a staggering 0 points on 0-9 shooting through the whole first half. It was a different star that stepped into the leadership role in this one. Jimmy Whitt led the team in scoring, setting a new career high with 30 points! He also led the team in rebounds (8) and blocked shots (2). From attacking double teams, to finding gaps behind the Commodore’s zone defense, to slamming home put back dunks, Whitt did it all in this one. His performance was much needed as the duo of Jones and Joe only finished with 13 points shooting 4-18 from the field.
Razorbacks Rebound as a Unit
Although Vanderbilt was without their leading rebounder, the Hogs showed a much improved effort on both backboards. They grabbed their third highest rebound total of the season with 37, and no one player had more than 8. Every starter accounted for at least four rebounds: Joe (4), Bailey (5), Sills (7), Jones (7), and Whitt (8). The team’s three leading rebounders in this game combine for an average height of 6’3. Perhaps more impressive than any of these numbers is the lack of offense rebounds allowed. After giving up 23 offensive rebounds to LSU and getting out rebounded 10-5 on the offensive glass against Ole Miss, the Hogs only allowed FOUR offensive rebounds to the Commodores. They won the rebounding battle 37-29. The +8 margin is their highest rebounding margin of victory since their season opening route against Rice (+15).
The Razorbacks did not allow Vanderbilt to acquire a single steal. The Hogs finished with seven total turnovers, but none of them were live-ball turnovers.
Mason Jones finished with a collegiate career low 1 point on 0-7 shooting, but still played well elsewhere finishing with 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 1 steal in 31 minutes of action.
Desi Sills is listed as the shortest player on Arkansas’s roster at 6’1, but still managed to grab 7 rebounds, 2nd highest on the team. He also scored 13 points, moving his scoring average to 10.0 PPG. He is now the 4th Razorback this season averaging double digit points.
The Wildcats are Coming to Town for an SEC Showdown
The Kentucky Wildcats make the trip to Fayetteville this Saturday for an SEC powerhouse showdown in Bud Walton Arena. They lost a nail-biter on the road against a sub-par South Carolina team in their last outing. Jermaine Couisnard capped off a 26 point performance for SC by banking in a game-winning, buzzer-beating three pointer. As much as SEC foes love to watch the Wildcats lose, no one wants to be on the other end of a revenge game. However, the high riding Hogs playing on their home court might just be the perfect place to host such a game. All time, the Hogs are 10-7 when unranked and playing against a top 10 team on their home court. This percentage favors the already 14-2 Hogs, but as Kentucky just brutally found out, anything can happen in the SEC.
Razorbacks Lack of Size sure to be a Factor
The most worrisome aspect of this game, as has been the case for several games this season, is Kentucky’s sheer size. Junior forward Nick Richards is 6’11 and averaging 13 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. The Wildcats will also field Senior forward Nate Sestina (6’9) and Sophomore forward EJ Montgomery (6’10). Both big men average upwards of 4 RPG. The Hogs rebounding against Vanderbilt proved to be much improved from their last two outings. Nonetheless, Richards inside ability and height advantage over Adrio Bailey is going to be a concern in Musselman’s game-plan. Aside from the battle of the bigs, the toe-to-toe matchup of Maxy, Quickley, and Hagans against Whitt, Joe, and Jones is sure to be nothing short of must see TV.
The Hogs are 14-2 and shocking the nation. The Wildcats are 12-4 and out for revenge. This is going to be a good one, folks.
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