Arkansas (9-4) at Texas A&M (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 9, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Arena (12,989) -- College Station, Texas. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Arkansas 9-1, Texas A&M 8-1. Away Record: Arkansas 0-1, Texas A&M 1-0. Neutral Record: Arkansas 0-2, Texas A&M 1-2. Conference Record: Arkansas 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Series Record: Arkansas leads, 95-51.
GAME NOTES: The Texas A&M Aggies will take part in their first official SEC game on Wednesday night when they play host to the Arkansas Razorbacks at Reed Arena.
Arkansas is riding a season-long, five-game win streak, the team most recently making easy work of Delaware State last Saturday in an 86-51 final. Despite their strong record however, the Razorbacks have not played well against top- level competition, losing to Arizona State (83-68), Wisconsin (77-70), Syracuse (91-82) and to Michigan (80-67), the last of which being their only true road game played to this point.
Texas A&M is also off to a strong start, the team having yet to lose back-to- back games. This marks the final leg of the Aggies' five-game homestand, where they have won three of four, with the most recent being a 67-59 verdict over Houston Baptist on Jan. 3.
Although this may be the first matchup between these two schools as SEC foes, they are certainly familiar with each another from their days in the Southwest Conference. The Razorbacks lead the series, 95-51, but they've met just once in the last 20 years.
The Razorbacks took full advantage of their inferior opponent last Saturday, taking a 25-point lead into the locker room at halftime against Delaware State. They never looked back as they were on fire from the floor, converting better than 58 percent of their total shots, including 10-of-19 from 3-point range. B.J. Young was nearly perfect, going 8-of-9 from the field on his way to 19 points, while Anthlon Bell shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc for a dozen points in limited minutes off the bench. The performance was par for the course for this Arkansas squad, which ranks second in the SEC in scoring at 82.9 ppg. With the good comes the bad however, as the squad also ranks last in the league in scoring defense as it yields in excess of 70 ppg. Young is one of the league's top guards, ranking third in scoring (17.7 ppg) thanks to an impressive .474 field goal percentage. He also hands out a team-best 4.3 apg. Marshawn Powell is a solid second option, netting 15.2 ppg on 53.5 percent shooting (which includes a .429 effort from long range). The Razorbacks are active in the takeaway battle, as their plus-6.4 turnover margin ranks third in the nation.
Texas A&M had a much more difficult time than it had figured against Houston Baptist in its latest bout, as it was just a one-possession game with under four minutes to play. The Aggies however, were able to hold on for the victory thanks to a 24-of-50 showing from the field and a 17-of-22 night from the foul line. A&M also dominated the turnover battle, 23-9. Elston Turner has certainly had better shooting days (6-of-15), but he still finished with a game-high 17 points, while Ray Turner and Fabyon Harris added 14 and 11 points respectively. For the season, the Aggies shoot an impressive 46 percent from the field, although that has resulted in a modest scoring average of 65.2 ppg. On the other hand, the team's scoring defense has been outstanding, ranking fourth in the conference in yielding just 59.2 ppg. Thanks in large part to a 3-point shooting effort that sits at 33-of-77 (.429), Elston Turner leads the team in at 15.5 ppg, while Ray Turner (12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) has been the answer inside, making just shy of 60 percent of his field goal attempts. Harris (9.7 ppg) is within a heartbeat of joining the double-digit scoring club.
While both teams boast impressive records, neither has been up to the task against elite competition, so a lot is still be learned about them in the coming weeks as they wade through the tough SEC. In what's sure to be a close battle throughout, the Aggies should be able to feed off the energy at home to take control down the stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 71, Arkansas 69
01/09 10:33:49 ET