South Alabama (6-5) vs. Arkansas (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Verizon Arena (18,000) -- North Little Rock, Arkansas. Television: RSN. Home Record: USA 6-1, Arkansas 7-0. Away Record: USA 0-3, Arkansas 0-0. Neutral Record: USA 0-1, Arkansas 1-2. Conference Record: USA 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 5-1.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks will attempt to keep their winning streak alive on Saturday night when they take on the South Alabama Jaguars in a non- conference clash at Verizon Arena.
It has been an up-and-down start of the season for South Alabama, which has shown a large disparity between its success at home (6-1) compared to its road and neutral-court matchups (0-4). The Jaguars recently snapped out of a two- game losing slide by downing Dillard University on Tuesday night, 82-73.
Outside of a pair of losses during the Maui Invitational last month to California (85-77) and Gonzaga (91-81), Arkansas has been outstanding this season, running out to an 8-2 record. The Razorbacks are currently riding a season-long four-game winning streak, which includes a 102-56 drudging of Tennessee-Martin at home on Thursday night.
Arkansas leads the all-time series, 5-1, although South Alabama won the most recent matchup in November of 2009, 74-61.
Although South Alabama didn't have as much success against its NAIA opposition earlier in the week as it would have liked, it still hung on for a nine-point victory by shooting 46.2 percent from the floor and by making 30-of-45 from the free-throw line. Augustine Rubit had a dreadful night from the foul line (3-of-10), but he made up for it with a 9-of-14 showing from the field on his way to 21 points, and adding 11 rebounds gave him his fifth double-double of the season. Mychal Ammons was also stellar with 17 points and seven boards, while Barrington Stevens netted 13 points.
On the season, the Jaguars have nearly the same field goal percentage (.407) as their opponents (.406), but they are still able to boast +7.8 scoring margin by making 8.8 3-pointers per game and owning a +4.2 rebounding margin. Rubit is the unquestioned catalyst with 18.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The remaining four starters, Ammons, Stevens, Antoine Allen and Ken Williams, all score between 8.0 and 9.8 points per game.
The Razorbacks' latest bout was never in question, as they shot a blistering 60.9 percent from the field while holding UTM to only 27.5 percent shooting on their way to a 46-point victory. Coty Clarke and Bobby Portis mirrored each other with their respective lines, as each tallied 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Moses Kingsley tallied a true double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Rashad Madden and Michael Qualls also factored in the balanced attack with 11 point apiece.
Arkansas has gotten used to high-scoring outputs this season, as it shoots 49.2 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from 3-point range and 71.1 percent from the free-throw line for 86.8 points per game, which is tops in the SEC. It's outstanding turnover margin (+5.2) has helped it on the defensive end of the court as well, allowing just 68.7 points per game. Qualls has been highly efficient en route to a team-best 14.4 points per game, shooting 55.8 percent from the floor, including 17-of-34 from beyond the arc. Portis (11.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Alandise Harris (11.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 spg) and Madden (10.2 ppg) are all integral pieces to the puzzle as well.
Arkansas has been clicking on all cylinders of late, and with South Alabama performing poorly away from its home arena, expect the Razorbacks to keep their winning streak alive.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas 88, South Alabama 71
12/21 11:14:14 ET