By: Paul Casey Gotham
Setting: SUHHHHH-WEEEEEEEETTT!!! It’s a Big 12 / SEC matchup at Bud Walton Arena on the campus of the University of Arkansas when Rick Barnes brings his 11-2 Texas Longhorns to Fayetville to square off with John Pelphrey’s Razorbacks who enter tonight’s game 11-1.
Plot: It’s one last non-conference game for these two combatants. The Longhorns hit 45% from the field including 35.9% from long range for 73.7 ppg. Arkansas scores 82.7 points per game by dropping 47.4% from the field including 38.8% behind the arc. Texas grabs 43 boards per game. Arkansas gets almost 45. Both teams make over seven steals per contest.
Sub-plots: Dating back to last year Arkansas has knocked off four of the last five ranked teams they have played. Most recently the Hawgs took down then #4 Oklahoma, 96-88. Texas is 2 and 2 against ranked opponents this year with wins versus UCLA and Villanova and losses to Notre Dame and Michigan State. Arkansas out-rebounded Oklahoma and player-of-the-year candidate, Blake Griffin 42-29.
Flashback: In their last meeting Texas won at home 80-76 on December 20, 2006.
Characters to watch: Senior AJ Abrams leads the Horns with 19 points a game while connecting 44% of the time from long range. Damion James throws in14 and Gary Johnson 10 for Texas. James leads the way with 8.9 rebounds per game. Nine Horns play at least tenminutes per game.
Junior Michael Washington with 17.4 leads four Razorbacks averaging double figures. Courtney Fortson scores 15.3, Stefan Welsh 13.5, and Rotnei Clarke 12.7. Washington pulls down 10.4 boards per game.
Tone: Urgency – This is an important game for an Arkansas team looking to develop their resume for the NCAA Selection Committee. Complacency – Texas needs to make sure they don’t overlook a hungry Arkansas squad.