Know your strangely familiar rival: Arkansas

Wesley Hitt

LEAVE YOUR TRIFECTA PICKS IN COMMENTS.

They whipped Florida at home and lost to Vanderbilt and South Carolina on the road by an average score of 71-52. Arkansas is truly Mike Anderson Country now.

Arkansas Razorbacks (15-9)


UA
Opp.
Pace (No. of Possessions)
70.5
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.08 0.97
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.22 1.25
2-PT FG% 50.8% 46.3%
3-PT FG% 31.1% 35.5%
FT% 69.5% 65.9%
True Shooting % 53.3% 52.6%




UA Opp.
Assists/Gm 15.7 12.1
Steals/Gm 9.4 5.1
Turnovers/Gm 11.4 18.1
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.20 0.95




UA Opp.
Expected Off. Rebounds/Gm 12.1 11.1
Offensive Rebounds/Gm 12.0 12.1
Difference -0.1 +1.0

In many ways, Mike Anderson's second Arkansas team is remarkably similar to his second team at Missouri in 2007-08. The offense is a little better (in part because of the talent, and the large recruiting class, he inherited when he arrived in Fayetteville) and the defense is a little worse (in part because of the talent, and the large recruiting class, he inherited when he arrived in Fayetteville), but the traits are the same. Force, and prevent, a lot of turnovers. Stink from 3-point range. Foul too much and don't draw enough fouls. Suffer serious lapses on the defensive glass. Utilize deep benches. (Well, use the bench a lot, anyway. That's not the same thing as having a deep bench.) Terrorize even the best teams at home while laying repeated eggs on the road.

Anderson's second Missouri team went just 16-16 but ranked 44th in Pomeroy's rankings, in part because of a 2-7 record in games decided by five points or fewer. (We remember that recipe well, don't we? Fall behind by double digits on the road, then make a crazy late charge to lose by five? Ah, the olden days.) Arkansas, on the other hand, has a better record (15-9) but ranks just 71st overall. The jarring Florida win aside, this team just hasn't been quite natural enough at the Fastest 40 Minutes style, and the result has often been closer-than-expected wins at home (five points over Sam Houston and Robert Morris, double overtime over Auburn) and worse-than-expected losses on the road, where they don't get the calls (18 points at Texas A&M, 18 points at Vanderbilt, 21 points at South Carolina). Arkansas' backcourt defense isn't nearly as good as that 2007-08 squad, which makes sense considering there's only one J.T. Tiller. But the offense bails them out at times.

And as we saw in the Florida game, this team can still just completely blitz you like we know a Mike Anderson team can. In the first 10 minutes of each half, Arkansas outscored Florida -- Florida -- by a combined 53-27. If they can do that to the team that beat Missouri by 31 points, they can do that to Missouri.

Ken Pomeroy Stats

UA Offense vs MU Defense Ranks

UA Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 59 79 UA
Effective FG% 125 61 MU
Turnover % 8 292 UA big
Off. Reb. % 164 45 MU big
FTA/FGA 232 23 MU big
MU Offense vs UA Defense Ranks

MU Offense UA Defense Advantage
Efficiency 12 96 MU
Effective FG% 81 174 MU
Turnover % 103 13 UA
Off. Reb. % 5 276 MU big
FTA/FGA 223 306 MU

Where the Hogs are weakest

Any Missouri fan reading this could probably write this section for me. Arkansas fouls like crazy (though they do foul mostly bigs, resulting in a pretty low FT% -- this wasn't the case in his early Mizzou years), gives up a ton of offensive rebounds, and gives up a ton of open 3-pointers (254th in Def. 3PT%, 157th in 3PA/FGA). The key for the Hogs, as always, is killing enough opponent possessions via turnover that it doesn't matter if opponents get some free points via open look and offensive rebound.

On offense, the Hogs' biggest liability is simply the 3-point line. They miss about 70 percent of their 3s (281st in 3PT%), but at least they know they stink at it and don't take many (255th in 3PA/FGA). (They made 8 of 18 3-pointers in their win over Florida. Every team gets hot at some point.)

Arkansas is also still terribly inexperienced. About half of Arkansas' minutes have been filled by freshmen and sophomores, and there isn't a single senior on the roster. That's how you end up ranked 281st in Experience.

Where they are best

Again, you know this without me telling you. The Hogs force turnovers at a ridiculous rate (13th in Def. TO%, 23rd in Steal %) and prevent you from doing the same (eighth in Off. TO%, sixth in Steal%). They dominate control of the ball. They also get you moving too quickly and force you into stupid shots sometimes (22nd in Def. Block%). They are ridiculously, comically deep (fourth in Bench Minutes), with 13 players currently averaging at least 6.5 minutes per game.

Arkansas' Season to Date

  • Wins (Team Rank is from KenPom.com)
    No. 1 Florida (80-69)
    No. 46 Oklahoma (81-78)
    No. 97 Tennessee (73-60)
    No. 129 Northwestern State (79-61)
    No. 138 Vanderbilt (56-33)
    No. 141 Auburn (88-80, 2OT)
    at No. 141 Auburn (83-75)
    No. 163 Robert Morris (79-74)
    No. 221 Sam Houston (73-68)
    No. 247 Mississippi State (96-70)
    No. 288 Delaware State (86-51)
    No. 321 Alcorn State (97-59)
    No. 326 Florida A&M (89-60)
    No. 346 Longwood (112-63)
  • Losses
    at No. 5 Michigan (67-80)
    No. 8 Syracuse (82-91)
    vs. No. 13 Wisconsin (70-77)
    at No. 39 Ole Miss (64-76)
    at No. 70 Alabama (56-59)
    vs. No. 82 Arizona State (68-83)
    at No. 89 Texas A&M (51-69)
    at No. 138 Vanderbilt (49-67)
    at No. 211 South Carolina (54-75)

This year's Arkansas team has been Anderson's most erratic, maddening Missouri team cooked and reduced into a concentrated dipping sauce. If Missouri's Anderson teams were cocaine, Arkansas is crack. Their good results (well, one in particular) are better, their bad results worse. In four home games versus Top 100 teams, the average score is Arkansas 79.0, Opponent 74.5. In four road games versus teams ranked worse than 85th, the average score is Opponent 71.5, Arkansas 59.3. Absurd.

Unfortunately, this game is in Fayetteville.

Arkansas Player Stats

Player AdjGS*/Gm GmSc/Min Line
Marshawn Powell (6'7, 240, Jr.) 14.8 0.58 25.3 MPG, 14.9 PPG (54% 2PT, 47% 3PT, 69% FT), 5.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.7 TOPG, 2.9 PFPG
B.J. Young (6'3, 180, So.) 14.7 0.52 28.3 MPG, 16.5 PPG (54% 2PT, 24% 3PT, 70% FT), 3.9 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 TOPG
Coty Clarke (6'7, 225, Jr.) 7.5 0.42 17.9 MPG, 6.6 PPG (46% 2PT, 33% 3PT, 77% FT), 4.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 TOPG, 2.8 PFPG
Hunter Mickelson (6'10, 245, So.) 7.1 0.39 18.4 MPG, 6.6 PPG (52% 2PT, 14% 3PT, 89% FT), 4.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Mardracus Wade (6'2, 176, Jr.) 6.2 0.27 23.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG (54% 2PT, 29% 3PT, 71% FT), 1.7 APG, 1.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 1.3 TOPG, 2.6 PFPG
Rickey Scott (6'3, 205, Jr.) 5.3 0.34 15.8 MPG, 5.0 PPG (46% 2PT, 39% 3PT, 52% FT), 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
Rashad Madden (6'5, 181, So.) 4.7 0.28 17.2 MPG, 4.3 PPG (65% 2PT, 23% 3PT, 68% FT), 2.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 TOPG
Michael Qualls (6'5, 205, Fr.) 4.4 0.32 13.7 MPG, 4.0 PPG (43% 2PT, 17% 3PT, 54% FT), 3.1 RPG
Jacorey Williams (6'8, 204, Fr.) 3.8 0.35 10.9 MPG, 4.2 PPG (52% 2PT, 21% 3PT, 77% FT), 2.1 RPG
Kikko Haydar (5'10, 162, Jr.) 3.7 0.29 12.8 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 1.5 RPG
Fred Gulley (6'2, 177, Jr.) 1.9 0.13 14.0 MPG, 1.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG
Dequavious Wagner (5'10, 176, Fr.) 1.7 0.27 6.5 MPG, 1.5 PPG
Anthlon Bell (6'3, 190, Fr.) 1.4 0.18 8.1 MPG, 3.4 PPG

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It redistributes a team's points based not only on points scored, but also by giving credit for assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls. It is a stat intended to determine who had the biggest overall impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • Highest Usage%: Young (30%), Powell (27%), Williams (22%)
  • Highest Floor%: Powell (44%), Young (43%), Scott (42%)
  • Highest %Pass: Madden (65%), Gulley (65%), Haydar (64%)
  • Highest %Shoot: Mickelson (52%), Powell (45%), Williams (43%)
  • Highest %Fouled: Clarke (20%), Wade (13%), Powell (12%)
  • Highest %T/O: Williams (9%), Gulley (9%), Clarke (8%)

Keys to the Game

  1. BCI! BCI! Of course. This is a game featuring a Mike Anderson team, after all. Basically, Arkansas is all but guaranteed to win this battle, probably comfortably. But if Mizzou can keep Arkansas' margin to under 2-to-1, or perhaps 1.75-to-1, that's a very good sign.

  2. Whistles. Of course. This is a game featuring a Mike Anderson team, after all. The way the refs call fouls will dictate how effective Arkansas' press is. This has always been the case. In losses, Arkansas has averaged a ridiculous 22.3 fouls per game. In wins, 18.2. So we'll set the bar at 20 then. If Arkansas commits, or is whistled for (probably a better way to put it) at least 20 fouls, Mizzou is in good shape.

  3. Flipadelphia. I wanted to point out how interesting the Marshawn Powell-vs-Laurence Bowers battle could be, and I wanted to make it the third key here, but ... of course the biggest key is Phil Pressey. (This is a game featuring Missouri, after all.) And that means a couple of different things, really. First, he is going to be facing a pretty fierce press for about 36-38 minutes. One hopes that Keion Bell can spell him at times, but it's going to be mostly Flip. He has to consistently beat the press (and considering his urgest to split double-teams, that could go either way) and make good decisions on offense, but he also has to prevent his opponent from destroying him on the opposite end.

    Rickey Scott, Rashad Madden, Kikko Haydar and Fred Gulley all have a %Pass over 60%, all drive pretty well, and average a combined 53 minutes of play per game. Assuming Flip isn't matched up with B.J. Young (which would seem exhausting and almost cruel), he will be facing off against any one of these guys ... and as we know, in Missouri losses, opposing point guards tend to go off. Haydar is a good 3-point shooter, as well. (The other three aren't.)

    Powell-versus-Bowers is interesting. Bell-versus-Young could be the same. But there's no point in beating around the bush. This game is all about Phil Pressey.

Prediction

Ken Pomeroy's projections say Mizzou wins 79-77 in Fayetteville and 83-72 at home. I'm going to stretch that out a bit. I say Mizzou loses 83-73 tomorrow and wins 89-66 on March 5. With the way Mizzou has played over the past week, the Tigers are obviously more than capable of winning this game. They are, in fact, the better team. And this would be just about the most satisfying win imaginable if it were to come about. But you just don't make a lot of money betting against Anderson teams at home. Watch the game with all of the hope and optimism you can muster, but understand that you really might not have a very good time.

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