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Hoops Preview: Oklahoma State-Arkansas Highlight Big 12-SEC Challenge

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A short three hour drive on US Highway 412 separates the Cowboys and the Razorbacks (an hour closer than all Big 12 teams not OU), but we’re in for a rare treat as the teams play this Saturday afternoon. Coached by a familiar face in Mike Anderson, the Mizzou head coach from 2006-2011, Arkansas likes to play fast being branded as #TheFastest40.

The Pokes and the Razorbacks haven’t played much since before the 1970s, but OSU won all four recent meetings from 2000-03. Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson brought a little more star power than current Hogs coach Mike Anderson and coach Underwood do, but both feature exciting pressure defenses, prolific offense and solid three-point shooting.

Viewing Information

Time: 3 p.m.
TV: ESPNU
Location: Gallagher-Iba Arena
Line: Oklahoma State -8

Season Trend

A rising SEC squad riding a four-game streak without a signature win, the Hogs are pushing to make it back to the NCAAs and looking to avoid missing out for the eighth time in nine years. They are 16-4 coming into their tilt with OSU.

Down 11 with four minutes to go, the Hogs pulled off one of the more impressive comebacks of the year earlier this week. Vandy is a decent squad, but Arkansas displayed some resolve as they won their third conference road game after being down by 12 or more. They bullied a guard heavy lineup 32 to 18 in the paint and out-rebounded them 34 to 31.

Players to Watch

Moses Kingsley, Forward

The senior big man (6’10”, 230 pounds) has an old fashioned back-to-the-basket game that the Cowboys don’t see much. As the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, expectations have been high and he’s starting to come around to the type of season expected after hanging 24 on LSU and 19 against Mississippi State. He’s developed some range this year at the prompting of NBA scouts even hitting a few threes on the year.

He defends the rim well (leads the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game) and cleans the boards with the best of them (2nd in the SEC with 8.2 rebounds per game), the Hogs lean on Kingsley for a lot. He’s not as quick as a Johnathan Motley of Baylor but he’s a refined product that’s coming into his own.

Dusty Hannahs, Guard

The senior transfer comes off the bench for the Razorbacks, but is intriguing for numerous reasons. First, he leads the team in scoring (14.1 points per game, top 15 in SEC scoring) and second he transferred in from Texas Tech playing his last few games there circa Marcus Smart shove in Lubbock in 2014.

Known as a three-point specialist, Hannahs is tenth in the SEC with 36 made threes (poor man’s Forte?) that provide instant offense. He leads the SEC in free throw shooting (89.2 percent) and plays a big role in the U of A offense since transferring home (Little Rock native) for his last two seasons.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Let’s just start with that this is a perfectly winnable game for the Pokes. KenPom gives Arkansas a 24 percent chance of winning the game based on their advanced stats and that seems pretty fair.

The Hogs have struggled mightily on the defensive glass allowing teams to collect 32 percent of their offensive rebounds. The perimeter defense has been an Achilles heel and Vandy just had a field day shooting threes on them (paging Carroll, Jeffrey).

Now, what are they good at? Applying pressure. KenPom ranks them 47th in the country at forcing steals and they do a lot of pressing per coach Mike Anderson’s style. The offense has been pretty solid as well, averaging 81.5 points per game, good for 31st in the nation.

Look out for Hannahs on the three point line and JUCO guard Daryl Macon does a good job attacking. They get to the foul line at a good pace with their inside out game, so let’s hope we can keep Solomon in there until the end to guard Kingsley (a monster big man).

Statistical Comparison

Other Notes

  • The Big 12 is 20-10 (.667) in the Challenge, having won the series in each of its first three years of existence.
  • The Cowboys and Razorbacks are two of eight high-major teams in the country to score 90-plus points in seven or more games this season. OSU has scored over 90 nine times this year, including five 100-point games.
  • Mitchell Solomon has been on a tear in the last four games. In that span, the junior is averaging 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 70.0 percent shooting and an 88 percent clip from the free throw line.
  • Jeffrey Carroll has scored at least 19 points in each of the last five games.
  • Saturday will serve as OSU’s Remember the Ten game, in which the Cowboys pay tribute to those tragically lost on Jan. 27, 2001.

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