Who: Alabama; 10-3 (5-0) vs. Arkansas; 10-3 (2-3)
When: 2:30 pm CT, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.
Where: Coleman Coliseum; Tuscaloosa, AL.
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (play-by-play: Chris Stewart; analyst: Bryan Passink)
On Saturday afternoon, two of the better teams in the SEC will meet in Coleman Coliseum in hopes of picking up a quality win for their NCAA tournament resume. Alabama has now won 6 straight games and sits atop the SEC. Arkansas, on the other hand, has played well overall, but is coming off of a blowout loss to LSU. Eric Musselman’s squad will use this as a wake up call, and they will be ready for Saturday. What makes this Arkansas team dangerous is they are very good offensively averaging over 87 PPG, which ranks no. 6 in the country according to TeamRankings. They shoot well from inside and outside the arc and take a ton of shots. A couple of other things Arkansas does very well is rebound and share the ball. They come into this game averaging 15.4 assists per game (no. 52) and 43 RPG (no. 6). When you break that down even further, it is an average of 12.5 offensive RPG and 27.1 defensive RPG. They also take care of the ball and do not turn it over much. When you combine all those things, that is what has helped this team win a lot of games so far. Defensively, there is nothing that just stands out as much as their offense, but they are not bad in any areas. They are solid all around, defensively and as a whole. One thing that needs to be pointed out, though, is Arkansas has not played anywhere near as tough of a schedule as Alabama has up to this point, so that does skew the statistical comparison a little.
As we all know, Alabama has finally come out of their shooting slump and has played very well over the past 6 games. They are now averaging over 79 PPG, which is ranked 35th best in the country. They are taking a high number of shots and making them, and everyone seems to have bought into their roles for the most part and are playing hard every game. The biggest question mark for this team right now is their health. Herbert Jones and Jordan Bruner left with injuries in the last game and did not return. Coach Nate Oats gave an update and said Jordan Bruner will miss 4-6 weeks after having meniscus surgery and Jones will be day-to-day with a hand/finger injury. Jahvon Quinerly has been out but is expected to be back potentially as early as tomorrow. Jones and Quinerly could both play limited minutes against Arkansas if needed. It will be interesting to see if the team can continue to play well if they are not available.
Arkansas Players to Watch:
G Moses Moody (16.8 PPG, 1.7 APG, 5.6 RPG)
G JD Notae (15.9 PPG, 2.2 APG, 3.3 RPG)
G Desi Sills (11.9 PPG, 2 APG, 4 RPG)
G Jalen Tate (10.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.9 RPG)
F Connor Vanover (8.1 PPG, 0.5 APG, 6.5 RPG)
F Vance Jackson Jr. (5.8 PPG, 1.1 APG, 3.4 RPG)
G Davonte Davis (5.2 PPG, 1.5 APG, 2.8 RPG)
Even after Herb Jones and Jordan Bruner left in the middle of the last game, Alabama still continued to play at a high level and put Kentucky away on the road. As noted earlier, Alabama has shot the ball well, played great defense, and brought the energy needed to win games every time they step on the court. Shackelford and Petty will both come out shooting the ball well and Alabama will be able to control the game and put Arkansas away in the second half.
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