With another big game on tap this evening, we thought it would be a good idea to get a better idea of who Auburn is going up against this evening. Special thanks to Arkansas Fight for taking some time to answer our questions.
1. So far, Eric Musselman has proven to be a home run hire for you guys. He’s passionate, engaging and has been extremely popular with Razorback fans, similar to the way Auburn embraced Bruce Pearl when he got here. Just talk how his arrival has reinvigorated the program?
Coach Muss has certainly brought life back into this program. It’s clear that the players have a lot of respect for him. He is in almost constant communication with the team on the sidelines. Somehow, he’s still able to hype up the crowd and get everyone involved. It’s only the beginning of the Musselman era and we’re already having sold out games! He’s brought back the passion for a lot of the fans. Bud Walton Arena is absolutely rocking every game! He is already making a huge wave here and I’m so excited to see what’s to come.
2. Is somebody at Western Kentucky blackmailing your athletics program? (Blink twice if yes).
3. What led to Arkansas’s roster being so devoid of size? Auburn was in a similar situation at the end of the Barbee/beginning of the Pearl era, but the Arkansas program seems to be in a better place than Auburn was in those years. And despite being devoid of size, how is Arkansas 28th in the country in block %?
Every team looks at us and can see that we don’t have the size factor on our side at all. We could definitely use a big man on the floor. However, we have some tenacious players that are not afraid of the paint. Mason Jones especially is no stranger to a scoring drive. All of our guys are tough. That toughness has gotten us to here so far!
4. At first glance, Mason Jones seems to get the lions share of the touches on offense, but he does seem to be an efficient scorer. Is he having a breakout year, or is Arkansas just struggling to find a consistent second option? Both?
Anyone that doesn’t see that Mason Jones is absolutely having a breakout year isn’t watching Arkansas basketball. He’s certainly still finding his rhythm to an extent, but he is undoubtedly a key aspect of this team.
5. For a team full of guards (not by style, just judging based on height), why is Arkansas so much better going to the rim than shooting the 3?
Like I said earlier, we’re a team made of tenacity. We just want to score. If you leave the inside open, we will take advantage. Don’t discount us, though. Isaiah Joe loves to embarrass people from the 3 point line.
6. In games that Arkansas has lost, what has been the biggest key to their opponents having success?
Size. And refs. Just kidding. I think we’re still really finding what works for us. We do have the size deficit, but that clearly hasn’t stopped us from making scoring drives. Free throws and rebounds—well, lack of them—seem to be our demise.
7. Who’s an under the radar player for Arkansas that Auburn fans should be concerned with going into this matchup?
Jimmy Whitt Jr is an absolute force. I think he’s started to get more recognition, but he doesn’t seem to be highlighted as much as Joe or Jones. Desi Sills is another sleeper. When he comes alive, he is unstoppable.
8. How do you see this game playing out? Both teams come into this one coming off of big wins.
I think this will be a really competitive game on both ends. We’re definitely excited to play a ranked team. We’re hungry for the win. After our game against Bama, I think we’re really fired up!
Tipoff tonight at 6 pm CST, War Eagle!