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Mizzou Hoops Preview: Arkansas Pt. 2

Missouri needs some stand out wins before the offseason comes knocking. Why not a home win over a conference rival?

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

We’re inching closer and closer to the future many of you wouldn’t have dreamed about six weeks ago. A future where — hold your breath, folks, I don’t want to alarm you — Cuonzo Martin is coaching Missouri in 2022-2023.

There was a time, even very recently, where I didn’t believe it was a possibility. Even after Mizzou saw an uptick in quality, there still seemed to be something missing. We’ve long said that being competitive was more important than stacking wins for this team, but you can play competitive for 30 games in a row and still go 0-30. Is it statistically likely? No. But it certainly felt like it with this team!

Yet Missouri has started to not only find ways to play in close games, but also win them. The Tigers have won two of their last three over middling SEC opponents and look to be prime position to avoid a play-in game at this year’s conference tournament. I suppose your definition of “prime” depends on how well you think the rest of this regular season will turn out, but I digress.

Still, it’s no sure thing that Missouri and Cuonzo Martin are still tangoing come November 2022. After all, we know this Missouri team is just as capable of nearly blowing an 18 point lead as they are of coming within one point of an Auburn upset. There’s no way to determine how the Tigers will close on any given night. At this point, we just have a vague confidence that they’ll be there toward the end of the game. For all we know, Missouri could fade down the stretch and DRF could be compiling her wish list.

However, I’ve come to think that if Missouri continues the track they’re on, one where they beat the teams they should, they’ll probably log at least three more wins, if not four. That’s a 13-17 or 14-16 record, which isn’t honestly that far off our preseason expectations. Is it good? Of course not. But it’s not as awful as it seemed when the Tigers were getting wiped off the floor in December.

The way to really make things interesting — to turn some heads toward 2022-2023 as a potentially engaging season — would be for Missouri to snag a win or two that they’re not supposed to have down the stretch. Starting on Tuesday night, the Tigers will have ample opportunity. Their next five games come against teams in the KenPom top 50, three of which they’re getting in Columbia. If you can at least go 2-1 at home, you’re looking at a non-zero chance of a .500 record... depending of course on the SEC Tournament scenarios.

But look at me, fantasizing about a .500 record. Who ever thought we could dream this big?!

Anyway, Arkansas is in town tonight. Beating them would be pretty neat. So, in my humble opinion, Missouri should do it.

The Scout

The Starters

Position Missouri (10-14) Arkansas (19-6)
Position Missouri (10-14) Arkansas (19-6)
PG Jarron Coleman (Jr., 6'5", 210) JD Notae (Sr., 6'2", 190)
CG Javon Pickett (Sr., 6'5", 215) Davonte Davis (So., 6'4", 180)
WING DaJuan Gordon (Jr., 6'3", 190) Au'Diese Toney (Sr., 6'6", 205)
PF Kobe Brown (Jr., 6'8", 250) Stanley Umude (Sr., 6'6", 210)
POST Trevon Brazile (Fr., 6'9", 215) Jaylin Williams (So., 6'10", 240)

Note: These starting lineups are projected.

For a full scout, check out our preview from when these two teams met in January.

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 104.8 (126) 18 (251) 47.8 (267) 21.3 (325) 32 (57) 29.3 (204) 28.5 (344) 50.1 (152) 72 (160) 9.3 (203) 10.5 (290)
Arkansas 91.5 (20) 16.6 (23) 48.1 (95) 21.4 (49) 24.2 (37) 32.1 (227) 33 (150) 47 (69) 71.5 (188) 12.5 (44) 11.2 (57)
NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | Find a way to win the boards... and hit some threes!

Arkansas isn’t a great season-long match up for this Missouri defense, which mainly thrives on creating second chances via the offensive glass. The Razorbacks do just about everything well on defense, including crashing the defensive boards. But if Missouri wants to win, they’ll have to find a way around Jaylin Williams and get some unexpected boards.

Oh, and Arkansas doesn’t defend the perimeter all that well! So a bounce back game from Boogie would be excellent timing.

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 109 (69) 16.4 (46) 49.5 (197) 17.4 (98) 31.3 (82) 37.5 (23) 30.5 (315) 51.4 (105) 74 (92) 8.4 (126) 9.1 (153)
Missouri 101.4 (150) 17.5 (178) 50.8 (218) 18.4 (191) 31.2 (293) 34.5 (284) 35.3 (255) 49.6 (182) 68.4 (45) 11.8 (61) 9.8 (138)
NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

What to Watch | No free passes

Arkansas plays fast and loose, which could fool you into thinking this is some sort of elite offense. They’re not — much closer to “pretty good” than “duck and cover, here they come.” To make up for their lack of shooting prowess, though, the Razorbacks do force the issue quite a bit and get fouled... a lot! They rank 14th in the country in free throw point distribution. Missouri will likely give Arkansas more than their fair share of attempts at the charity stripe, but Missouri needs to make sure that number climbs no higher than absolutely necessary.

KenPom predicts...

Arkansas 73, Missouri 67 | Missouri only has so many opportunities to lock down truly standout wins — the kind that would make Cuonzo’s sixth year at Missouri much more of a sure thing. The match up isn’t great, but Arkansas just had a let down against Alabama and Missouri is playing above its season-long measurables. The timing would seem advantageous to grab a win that may bring some good will back from a fan base that’s been looking toward 2022-2023 since December.