clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Hoops Preview: Arkansas comes to town for fifth Rally For Rhyan game

Arkansas has emerged as one of the SEC’s best, but Missouri is 4-0 in Rally For Rhyan games.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Coming up on five years ago, Rhyan Loos was diagnosed with cancer. Rhyan, the daughter of then-assistant Brad Loos, was just five years old at the time, a tragedy that shook Missouri basketball to its core.

Missouri responded by putting together its first annual, “Rally For Rhyan,” game in the winter of 2016. Despite being mired in a 13-game losing streak in one of the worst seasons of basketball the school had ever seen, Missouri won the first annual R4R game by downing a pretty good Florida team. Every year since, the university has continued its tradition by using the game to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Missouri is 4-0 in Rally For Rhyan games, which is bananas considering the track record of Mizzou Hoops over that time. Here at Rock M Nation, we’ve always been admirers of the tradition. But we’ve never taken part — until this year.

If you visit that link, you’ll find our First Annual Rally For Rhyan Pledge Drive. In it, we’ve set up a number of prop bets and an escalator bet that will determine how much money you would give to the Rally For Rhyan organization. All money will be directly donated to R4R, which helps fund pediatric cancer research.

Please give! We could’ve spent this time with some narrative schlock about Eric Musselman and the return of Arkansas basketball, but this is way more important. We’ll get into more of the basketball stuff below. In the meantime, take a second to check out our pledge drive and make a donation. Every little bit counts.

The Scout

The Starters

Position Missouri (10-12) Arkansas (16-6)
Position Missouri (10-12) Arkansas (16-6)
PG Xavier Pinson (So., 6'2", 170) Mason Jones (Jr., 6'5", 200)
CG Dru Smith (Rs. Jr., 6'3", 203) Desi Sills (So., 6'1", 196)
WING Javon Pickett (So., 6'5", 220) Jimmy Whitt (Sr., 6'3", 175)
PF Kobe Brown (Fr., 6'7", 240) Adrio Bailey (Sr., 6'6", 217)
POST Reed Nikko (Sr., 6'10", 240) Reggie Chaney (So., 6'8", 222)

Note: These starting lineups are projected.

In the immortal (meh, maybe not so much) words of Daffy Duck: “You may be big, but I’m small!”

Arkansas is, indeed, pretty small. Not one player on scholarship measures over 6’8”, and the overall roster ranks 281st in average height. And of those shorter players? No one over 6’6” has a minutes percentage over 34 percent. Eric Musselman likes his guards, and he likes them a lot.

It’s easy to see why, too. The Razorbacks have three guards averaging over 14 points a game. The most prominent is Mason Jones, who has made admirable strides in his junior season. Jones is averaging more than 20 points per game on a 60.2 true shooting percentage. He’s not an elite jump shooter, but is adept at getting to the line where he makes 82 percent. He also runs a 31.2 possession percentage — if he’s on the floor (which he often is), he’s going to get the ball.

Isaiah Joe and Jimmy Whitt aren’t anything to sneeze at either. Whitt, who hails from Columbia, is a picture of offensive determination — he’s going to the rim, and you’ll just have to try and stop him. Whitt has only taken one three-pointer on the year, taking nearly all of his shots from two-point range. He gets to the line a fair amount, but it’s not as if he’s drawing contact left and right. Joe is almost the inverse — he’s taken a team-high 212 three-pointers. While he’s only made 34 percent, he’s still averaging more than 16 points a game. Neither Whitt or Joe are huge playmakers for others, but they rarely cough up the ball once they have it.

Desi Sills and Jalen Harris are more in the Whitt mold of offense, even though they’re not quite as efficient. Sills, despite his 6’1” stature, hits at 57 percent from close range, but doesn’t have a jumper to match (not that it matters, usually.) Harris is better at drawing contact and generating points at the line. Adrio Bailey, the only top six player who stands at 6’6” or above, is the team’s best three-point threat at 36.8 percent. He’s also a defensive weapon, averaging 7.6 blocks per 40 minutes to go along with 3.1 steals. Reggie Chaney is a starter for the Razorbacks, though he only gets about a third of the available minutes. He struggles with fouls, but is nearly automatic when he shoots from down low — 72.9 percent. Jeantal Cylla rounds out the eight-man rotation, though he’s mostly a body used to soak up some defensive rebounds when they come his way — his true shooting percentage is 32.5.

When Missouri has the ball...

Missouri Offense vs. Arkansas Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Missouri 102.4 (179) 17.7 (212) 47 (282) 21.6 (312) 29.9 (106) 33.2 (150) 30.5 (300) 47.9 (225) 77.4 (11) 12.3 (344) 9.1 (172)
Arkansas 90.3 (14) 17 (69) 45 (27) 23.6 (15) 30.3 (271) 37.9 (284) 24.8 (1) 49 (165) 68.4 (86) 11.1 (71) 12.1 (15)
NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Missouri
Will Dru Smith have to carry the offensive load for Missouri, or will other scorers step up?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Will Missouri make shots?

When Arkansas has the ball...

Arkansas Offense vs. Missouri Defense

Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Team Adj. Eff. Poss. Length eFG% TO% OR% FTA/FGA 3P% 2P% FT% Blk% Stl%
Arkansas 106.7 (89) 16.9 (109) 50.7 (114) 16.3 (27) 21.3 (337) 37.1 (69) 31.8 (245) 52.8 (50) 72 (122) 8.2 (105) 6.8 (8)
Missouri 97.8 (90) 18.2 (317) 45.9 (45) 22.4 (35) 29.3 (233) 42.4 (331) 29.8 (31) 46.7 (91) 73.4 (299) 9.4 (141) 10.7 (65)
NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Arkansas
Mason Jones is averaging 20 points per game on the road, but only shoots 35 percent from three. Can Missouri keep him in check?
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Limit big runs via the three-pointer

Arkansas isn’t elite offensively, but they match up well with the Tigers. They get to the line at a good clip, they take excellent care of the ball and they push the pace just enough to be able to speed Missouri up without being totally thrown off when the game slows down. If Missouri has a strength, Arkansas can neutralize it.

That is, unless you’re talking about three-point shooting. Missouri still isn’t having a good SEC slate on that end (12th in conference play), but they’re still one of the country’s better three-point defenses. Adversely, Arkansas ranks 245th in three-point shooting. If MIssouri is able to cut down on any big Razorback runs by limiting their success from deep, it’ll go a long way toward MIssouri keeping the game close and letting the R4R crowd momentum remain as a factor late into the game.

KenPom predicts...

Arkansas 68, Missouri 64 | Missouri is 4-0 in Rally for Rhyan games. That’s about the only justification I can think of (other than being at home, which folds into the R4R record) for picking a Mizzou win here.

Give money to our pledge drive and help fund research to fight pediatric cancer.