Arkansas (14-8) at Vanderbilt (13-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Gymnasium (14,316) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: Arkansas 12-2, Vanderbilt 9-3. Away
Record: Arkansas 0-4, Vanderbilt 2-4. Neutral Record: Arkansas 2-2, Vanderbilt
2-1. Conference Record: Arkansas 3-6, Vanderbilt 5-4. Series Record: Arkansas
GAME NOTES: The Vanderbilt Commodores will attempt to continue their hot
streak on Saturday afternoon, as their three-game homestand comes to a close
in an SEC battle with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Arkansas had lost four of its previous five prior to defeating Alabama at home
on Wednesday night, 65-58, to improve to 3-6 in the SEC. Despite the
Razorbacks' solid 14-8 overall record, they have experienced a large success
differential between their home (12-2) and road (0-4) games.
Vanderbilt has been playing its best basketball of the season in recent weeks,
ripping off four straight victories to surge above .500 in league play (5-4)
for the first time all year. The Commodores most recently edged out Tennessee
on Wednesday, 64-60, to improve to 13-8 overall and 9-3 on their home floor.
The Commodores bested Arkansas in two of three meetings last season, including
in the opening round of the SEC Tournament, 75-72. The Razorbacks still hold a
18-11 advantage in the series all time.
The Razorbacks managed to overcome a small halftime deficit earlier in the
week by improving their field-goal shooting from 27.3 percent in the first
half to 54.2 percent in the second. They also outscored Alabama at the free-
throw line, 20-12, and won both the rebounding (42-38) and turnover battles in
the seven-point victory. The squad was paced by a career-best performance from
Bobby Portis, who shot 14-of-17 from the field and 6-of-6 at the foul line for
35 points, while adding nine rebounds and six blocks for good measure. No one
else scored in double figures in the low-scoring affair, but Rashad Madden
handed out six assists.
Arkansas is usually much more impressive on the offensive end of the court
than it showed against Alabama, as it shoots 44.7 percent from the field for
an SEC-best 81.2 ppg, and while its scoring defense (70.0 ppg) ranks in the
bottom third of the league, its scoring margin (+11.2 ppg) ranks behind only
Kentucky and Florida. It also benefits from owning an outstanding +6.1
turnover margin, a number that ranks in the top-five nationally. Portis'
explosion on Wednesday added to an already-stellar campaign, as he posts 13.3
ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg and 1.0 spg, while shooting 55 percent from the field.
Madden (12.7 ppg) and Michael Qualls (11.2 ppg) are the only other players to
net in double figures, but the deep squad has nine others who put up at least
Vanderbilt pieced together a 10-point halftime lead its last time out, and
while it saw that advantage disappear when Tennessee climbed back to tie the
game at 53 with 6:35 left, it answered with four straight points and held on
to win by that same margin. It outshot the Vols from the field, 52.2 percent
to 37.7 percent, which helped overcome it sizeable disadvantage on the glass
(41-26). Rod Odom was the spark plug in the triumph with a career-high 26
points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while Kyle Fuller tallied a double-double
with 12 points and 10 assists.
Although the Commodores' scoring margin (+1.6) is sub par by SEC standards,
they are able to make up for their lackluster offensive attack (67.0 ppg) by
playing strong defense (65.4 ppg). They have made their mark in close games
this season, going 7-2 in matchups decided by six points or less. Odom paces
the squad in both scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg) and has drained
64 3-pointers at a 44.1 percent clip, and he has been red-hot of late, putting
up 20.0 ppg in the last three. Fuller nets 11.3 ppg and dishes out 4.4 apg,
while Damian Jones brings 11.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg and more than a block per contest
to the table.
With Vanderbilt surging of late and holding the homecourt advantage over a
Razorbacks squad who has yet to win on the road, expect the Commodores'
season-long winning streak to continue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 69, Arkansas 65
02/08 10:26:49 ET
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