Auburn (8-7) at Arkansas (10-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bud Walton Arena (19,368) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Auburn 6-3, Arkansas 10-1. Away Record: Auburn 1-1, Arkansas 0-2. Neutral Record: Auburn 1-3, Arkansas 0-2. Conference Record: Auburn 2-0, Arkansas 1-1. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 28-16.
GAME NOTES: The Auburn Tigers will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games on Wednesday night, as they pull into Fayetteville for an SEC clash with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The new year has been very kind to Auburn. After posting an impressive win over Florida State on Jan. 2 (78-72), it opened up its SEC slate with a pair of wins over LSU (68-63) and South Carolina (74-71) to move to 2-0 in conference play for the first time since the 2002-03 season. The Tigers have now won six of their last eight games to improve to 8-7 overall.
After dropping its first SEC contest at Texas A&M on Jan. 9 (69-51), Arkansas returned home last Saturday and took down Vanderbilt, 56-33, marking the lowest point total by an Arkansas opponent since it joined the SEC for the 1991-92 campaign. The Razorbacks are winners of six of their last seven games, and all 10 of their wins this season have come at home.
Arkansas has beaten Auburn on four consecutive occasions to up its advantage in the all-time series to 28-16. The Hogs have also won 17-of-19 matchups at Bud Walton Arena.
Auburn and South Carolina had a back-and-forth battle over the weekend, but in a game the featured 13 ties and 27 lead changes, Auburn had the last word with a pair of Frankie Sullivan free throws late to seal the deal. The Tigers were on fire from the floor in the win, outshooting the Gamecocks 58.5 percent to 45.6 percent, but they lost possessions by losing both the rebounding (31-24) and turnover (17-15) battles. Sullivan finished with 17 points and five assists, Rob Chubb tallied a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Brian Greene, Jr. shot a perfect 6-of-6 off the bench to tack on 14 points. Auburn is a rather modest scoring team, ranking in the lower half of the SEC in field goal percentage (.431) and points per game (69.2), but it still boasts positive margins in scoring (plus-4.1), rebounding (plus-2.4), and turnover (plus-1.3) differentials. Sullivan is the catalyst with 17.2 ppg, second-most in the league, although he shoots less than 30 percent from beyond the arc. Chubb is rock solid in the frontcourt with averages of 9.7 ppg (on 52.2 percent shooting) and 7.6 rpg.
The Razorbacks didn't have one their best nights at the offensive end in the recent win over Vanderbilt, as they made just 3-of-18 from 3-point range and committed 16 turnovers, but they cruised to a 23-point victory behind a historic defensive effort that yielded just 25 percent shooting (10-of-40) while forcing 26 turnovers. Marshawn Powell drained 8-of-9 from the field for 17 points and contributed to the turnover battle with six steals, while B.J. Young chipped in 14 points for the victors. Arkansas plays an up-tempo style on offense, which has resulted in a .461 field goal percentage and 79.0 ppg, which ranks second behind only Ole Miss in the SEC. Young and Powell are one of the best inside-outside duos in the league with the former accounting for 17.1 ppg and 4.1 apg, and the latter draining nearly 55 percent of his attempts from the field for 14.3 ppg, adding 0.9 blocks and 1.2 spg for good measure. Hunter Mickelson and Mardracus Wade are also solid contributors for Arkansas with 7.4 ppg apiece.
Auburn has come on of late, but it will be put to the test in the coming weeks as the SEC schedule gets more demanding. Expect the Tigers to put up a fight, but the Razorbacks have played extremely well at home this season, and they will feed off the energy in the building to fall on the winning side of this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 72, Auburn 68
01/16 10:34:08 ET