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Auburn at Arkansas Game Preview and Open Thread

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Auburn heads to Fayetteville looking to even the season series.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks

Bud Walton Arena - Fayetteville, Arkansas

Time: 8 PM

Network: SEC Network, Auburn Radio Network

Three weeks ago in the SEC Opener, Arkansas came into Auburn Arena and overcame 15 3-pointers in a 97-85 win over the Tigers. Tonight, Auburn looks to return the favor. Auburn has won their last 2 games over Georgia and Kentucky after an 0-4 start to the SEC. Sharife Cooper has made a, as expected, dramatic difference on the state of this basketball team, averaging 21.7 PPG along with 9.7 APG.

Let’s Get Reacquainted (Arkansas)

While things have been looking up lately for the Tigers, the same cannot be said for the Hogs. Arkansas comes into tonight’s game having lost 4 of their last 5 games since beating Auburn and sit, like Auburn, at 2-4 in SEC play. Their lone win was against Georgia by 30 and lost at home to Missouri and narrowly to Tennessee in Knoxville. Then last week was a rough one as Arkansas lost by 16 at LSU and then by 31 at Alabama on Saturday.

Moses Moody - 17.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG

Moody had 16 points and 6 rebounds in the first game. He was the lone bright spot against Alabama scoring a career high 28 points and also had 9 rebounds. Moody is shooting 38.9% from 3 and has one-and-done potential.

JD Notae - 15.1 PPG

Notae had 21 points against the Tigers in the first matchup.

Desi Sills - 11.3 PPG

Sills had a season high 23 points in the win over Auburn back on 12/30.

Justin Smith - 10.9 PPG

The Indiana transfer got hurt early in the first matchup but returned on Saturday against Alabama.

Jalen Tate - 10.4 PPG

Tate had 12 points and 4 assists against Auburn.

Connor Vanover - 7.5 PPG

The 7’3” center had his best performance in SEC play against the Tigers going for 17 points and 7 rebounds. He has played less than 10 minutes over the last 3 games and came out of the starting lineup against the Tide.

Keys for Auburn

Since the start of the 2015-2016 season, the Tigers are 14-2 in games where they make 15+ 3s in a game. As for the two losses: 2019 at LSU and the team’s previous matchup 3 weeks ago. Auburn was 15-29 in the game. I don’t see Auburn making 15 3s in this one but it would be nice to see the Tigers shoot a respectable percentage from distance tonight.

Auburn has struggled from 3 over the last 3 games shooting just 16-71 from distance (22.5%). The Tigers will have Sharife Cooper for this matchup and the one area he has struggled with so far is 3-point shooting. He is just 1-16 from 3-point range in the 3 games he has played so far this year.

It’s a homecoming for a trio of Tigers as Allen Flanigan, Chris Moore and Javon Franklin return to their home state for this one.

Flanigan is coming off a career high 21 points and also had 9 rebounds against Kentucky. He had his first career double-double in the previous meeting scoring 19 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Vitale had a great article about his leap from Year 1 to Year 2 earlier this week.

Chris Moore has missed the last few games due to a wrist injury but hopefully Auburn will get him back tonight to help provide Auburn with even more bench production. Javon Franklin should get some minutes as well as he has the last several games.

Speaking of bench production, Devan Cambridge has scored in double figures in all 3 games off the bench and knocked down a trio of 3-pointers against the Cats.

J.T. Thor had a stretch between the 4-8 minute mark that showed the potential he has to be a NBA player. He was dominant on both ends of the floor including steals on back to back possessions as Auburn stretched the lead out to 10 with about 5 minutes to go. As Thor continues to click, it makes this team even more dangerous going forward.

Prediction

These teams are moving in opposite directions at the moment but this is a must win for Arkansas if they want to continue their NCAA Tournament aspirations. Auburn just has to worry about player development and winning games at this point. The Tigers came back to win a rare game at Bud Walton last year thanks to the #55 jersey worn by J’Von McCormick in a thrilling OT win.

Auburn had a combined 12 turnovers between Flanigan and Justin Powell, the two guys who ran the Point for Auburn in the previous matchup. Having Cooper will make a difference and I like the way the Tigers are playing right now so while I don’t have a ton of confidence with this pick, I’m going with Auburn.

Auburn 81 Arkansas 75