Kentucky Wildcats (22) @ Arkansas Razorbacks: Game Preview

Tonight, the Arkansas Razorbacks host the Kentucky Wildcats in the renewal of a rivalry that has lost some of its luster in recent years due to domination by Kentucky.  After the unfortunately dramatic leave-taking of former Hawg legend Nolan Richardson, the Razorbacks have struggled to find the old magic, especially against Kentucky

The two seasons compare thus:




W-L Splits: Kentucky Arkansas



Split W-L Pct W-L Pct
Team W-L Conf Home 13-0 1.0 14-2 0.875
Florida 21-5 10-2 Away 2-6 0.25 1-6 0.143
Alabama 18-8 10-2 Neutral 4-1 0.8 1-2 0.333
Vanderbilt 20-7 8-5 Conference 7-5 0.583 5-7 0.417
Kentucky 19-7 7-5 Conf Home 6-0 1.0 4-2 0.667
Georgia 18-8 7-5 Conf Away 1-5 0.167 1-5 0.167
Tennessee 17-11 7-6 Conf Neutral 0-0 - 0-0 -
MState 14-12 6-6 Top 25 2-4 0.333 1-3 0.25
Arkansas 16-10 5-7 RPI 1-50 5-5 0.5 2-5 0.286
Mississippi 17-11 5-8 RPI 51-100 1-2 0.333 2-2 0.5
South Carolina 14-12 5-8 RPI 101-150 5-0 1.0 1-2 0.333
LSU 10-17 2-10 RPI 151-200 4-0 1.0 1-0 1.0
Auburn 9-17 2-10 RPI 200+ 4-0 1.0 10-1

John Pelphrey's crew have not had a horrible season in Fayetteville, but as they have been for a while, the Razorbacks seem to lack a couple of critical elements to take them from fair to very good.  That stands to be rectified next year as Pelphrey has assembled an impressive recruiting class for 2011-12, but this year's team has fared just as badly as Kentucky on the SEC road, and not as good at home, dropping a couple of games in Fayetteville to the Georgia Bulldogs and Mississippi Rebels.

Be sure to visit the SBNation Arkansas blog Razorback Expats for the Arkansas point of view.

Personnel


Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball Roster

# Pos. Comments
W H College
Marcus Britt 12 G Starter, 43% 3-pt shooter
198 6-3 senior
Glenn Bryant 5 F Reserve 190 6-7 sophomore
Rotnei Clarke 15 G Starter, leading scorer, 44% 3-pt shooter
184 6-0 junior
Jemal Farmer 2 G Minor reserve 213 6-5 senior
Kikko Haydar 20 G Rarely plays 170 5-11 freshman
Delvon Johnson 21 F Starter, leading rebounder, leading OR%, 3+ blocks
220 6-9 senior
Nick Mason - G Rarely plays 160 5-10 junior
Julysses Nobles 23 G Major reserve, leading assists, lead steals, starter's minutes
170 6-1 sophomore
Jeff Peterson 30 G Starter 192 6-0 junior
Marshawn Powell 33 F Starter, 2nd leading scorer, 2nd leading rebounder
220 6-7 sophomore
Michael Sanchez 31 F Reserve 236 6-8 junior
Rickey Scott 3 G Reserve 195 6-3 freshman
Mardracus Wade 1 G Major reserve 170 6-2 freshman
Marvell Waithe 22 F Reserve 216 6-9 junior

Rotnei Clarke is the SEC's leading 3-point shooter and has virtually unlimited range.  Delvon Johnson is an improving post player who is second in the SEC in blocked shots.  Marshawn Powell is a talented forward who can shoot with range and post people up.  The three of them, plus point guard Julysses Nobles forge a potent combination.

Injuries

Arkansas:  Rickey Scott suffered a knee injury a month ago and is doubtful tonight.

Kentucky:  No known injuries.

Four Factors Analysis

The Four Factors to Winning in this game generally favor Kentucky, with the exception of free throw rate percent.  Arkansas maintains a narrow advantage in this stat.  It is unusual for Kentucky to be favored in the OR% statistic, but Arkansas is the second-worst offensive rebounding team in the league.

The turnover statistic looks to favor Kentucky, but in SEC play, the Razorbacks have been very good at taking care of the ball.  Also in SEC play, the Razorbacks are #1 in the league in FTR%, and shoot free throws reasonably well at 71% in league play.

Overall Analysis

Matchups

  • Point guard:  Advantage Kentucky.  Nobles and Peterson are very good point guards, but Brandon Knight is superior to both of them in quickness and overall scoring ability.  Knight has been very good defensively of late, also.
  • 2-guard:  Advantage Arkansas.  Lamb is almost as good as Clarke when it comes to shooting the ball, but Clarke is a player that demands constant attention, just like John Jenkins of the Vanderbilt Commodores.
  • Small forward:  Advantage Kentucky.  Either Darius Miller or DeAndre Liggins are bigger and better than either Britt, Bryant, or Farmer.
  • Power Forward:  Advantage Kentucky.  Marshawn Powell is no slouch, but neither is he as good as Terrence Jones in any department.
  • Center:  Advantage Arkansas.  Delvon Johnson, if he can avoid fouls, is very effective on the glass and scoring.  He is more athletic than Harrellson, but Harrellson will give him his money's worth with his superior overall size.

Everything else

Arkansas is a team that simply has not guarded well in the SEC, and they are not among the best scoring teams in the league, either.  Their defensive efficiency clocks in around 102 points/100 possessions, and that is not exactly a strong position.

The Razorbacks also are a very poor offensive rebounding team, although I really don't know why.  They have plenty of size and talent to rebound well, but they don't.  That makes me very concerned about this statistic tonight.  Teams that are capable but underperforming in an area like this can rise up at any time.

Arkansas has been a good ballhandling team lately, even though they don't match up to the Wildcats in that area.  Still, the razorbacks give up very few steals, which means they don't give up many run outs, normally.

Overall, this Razorbacks squad doesn't do anything remarkably well, but they do have some capable players, one deadly 3-point shooter, and plenty of everything that a basketball team needs to win.  That they haven't won more is something of a mystery, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous on a given night.

Kentucky will need everything they have to win this game.  It looks like a mismatch on paper, but I'm not convinced.

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