Louisiana (2-0) at Arkansas (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bud Walton Arena (19,368) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: None. Home Record: Louisiana 2-0, Arkansas 1-0. Away Record: Louisiana 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Conference Record: Louisiana 0-0, Arkansas 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks will continue their season-opening, three- game homestand on Friday night, as they take on the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at Bud Walton Arena.
Attempting to put to bed the memories of a poor 2012-13 campaign (13-20), Louisiana has opened up the new campaign with consecutive wins. After taking care of business against Louisiana College last Saturday (101-67), the Cajuns defeated McNeese State on Tuesday, 92-66, although now they hit the road for the first time. They were just 2-14 away from Lafayette last season.
Although Arkansas was a solid 19-13 last season, it is expected to take a step backward in a difficult SEC after losing several key players from that unit. The Razorbacks showed no ill effects in their opener, however, as they easily dismissed visiting SIU Edwardsville last Friday, 99-65.
Each side has beaten the other one time previously, although the last meeting took place back in 1969 with Louisiana defeating Arkansas, 94-85.
The Cajuns have been red-hot offensively early on, averaging 96.5 points per game on 51.7 percent from the field, and their were several noteworthy performances in their 26-point victory over McNeese State the last time out. Shawn Long and Elfrid Payton, who were both named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team, were both up to their usual antics. Long posted a monster double-double with 29 points and 15 rebounds to go with five blocks, while Payton netted 22 points and swiped five steals. Elridge Moore (16 points, nine rebounds) was also impressive in the triumph. The inside-outside combo of Long (26.0 ppg, 14.5 rpg, 4.5 bpg) and Payton (21.5 ppg, 6.0 apg, 3.5 spg) is expected to wreak havoc all season long, and if Moore (13.5 ppg) can continue his outstanding shooting (.714) as the third option, Louisiana will certainly need to be a mid-major on the national radar.
The Razorbacks are without both BJ Young (15.2 ppg) and Marshawn Powell (14.5 ppg) this season, but for one game at least, their scoring production did not suffer as they shot greater than 51 percent from the floor in the rout of SIUE. Five players scored in double figures for UA, with Anthlon Bell leading the way with 18 points on a 5-of-6 effort from 3-point range. Bell is one of many Arkansas players expected to step up with an increase in playing time after averaging just 4.4 points per game in less than 10 minutes per contest a season ago. Michael Qualls netted 16 points, Alandise Harris added 15 off the bench, and Coty Clarke (10 points, eight rebounds) and Mardracus Wade (11 points) also had solid outings. Clarke (7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Wade (6.5 ppg) are the only two players from the 2012-13 team with extensive starting experience.
Arkansas certainly quieted some critics with a dominant performance in its opener, but that was hardly a great accomplishment considering the competition. The Razorbacks were outstanding at home a season ago (18-1), and Bud Walton Arena will surely be rocking again in this one, but Louisiana has a pair of outstanding playmakers (Long and Payton) that are better than anyone for the Hogs, meaning the Cajuns will be in great position to pick up an impressive road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 80, Arkansas 75
11/15 10:32:54 ET