The Arkansas Razorbacks have two different teams – their “home” team and their “away” team. At home, the Hogs have recorded a perfect 6-0 conference record, including an 80-69 upset victory over the Florida Gators on February 5th. The road has been less kind to Arkansas, where they have posted a 1-5 league mark.
Unfortunately for Georgia, the Dawgs must face the Razorbacks in Fayetteville on Thursday night.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson, a disciple of Norm Richardson, has brought back the “40 Minutes of Hell” defense to the Razorback program, and it has paid dividends. The Hogs relentless full-court pressure is generating nearly 9 steals per SEC contest, which is second in the league. In addition, Arkansas is turning teams over a conference-leading 18.6 times per game.
The Razorback defensive attack should pose an enormous challenge for a team like Georgia that has struggled to value the basketball all too often this season.
The Hogs are led offensively by sophomore guard B.J. Young and junior big Marshawn Powell. Young – a tremendous athlete – is netting 15.4 points per SEC game. Powell – last week’s SEC Player of the Week – is a tough match-up at his size because of his ability to score both close to and away from the basket, where he averaging 15.3 points and 5.3 boards in league contests.
While the Hogs have been quite stout at home, Georgia comes into this game sporting a 3-3 SEC road record, which ranks in the upper echelon of the conference in that category.
One UGA player (besides Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) who has played particularly well recently for Coach Mark Fox outside of Athens has been freshman guard Kenny Gaines. Gaines has scored in double-figures in Georgia’s last three road games at South Carolina, Tennessee and Ole Miss, averaging 12 points per contest while playing just 19 minutes per night.
As this year of college basketball continues to progress closer and closer to postseason play, the games begin to take on more of a magnitude for teams hoping to be considered for the NCAA Tournament. In ESPN’s most recent Bubble Watch, Arkansas was listed within the SEC’s group of bubble teams, meaning that Mike Anderson’s team will enter Thursday evening’s matchup knowing that they cannot afford to slip up at home against the Dawgs.
A Georgia win, though, would bolster Coach Fox’s team up into sixth place in the league, with a winnable Saturday home game against South Carolina on the horizon.