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Auburn vs. Arkansas basketball preview: Tigers face one of SEC's toughest road trips

Auburn is still looking for its first SEC win, and it will be tough to come by in Fayetteville.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, Tiger fans. It seems, during Tony Barbee's tenure, that Auburn plays to the level of its competition. Auburn at home was within three of the nation's seventh-ranked Florida Gators in the final minute. Auburn on the road came within one with just over four minutes to play against Mississippi State and within four THREE TIMES in the final minute. How is it possible for to play a Kenpom No. 17 closer than a Kenpom No. 183?

I will not go through my thoughts on Barbee or on the administration for hiring and retaining him, as I think those thoughts are well known. If you have a hard time figuring out how I feel, these tweets may help you.

If you haven't already, check out the latest College and Mag Show, specifically around the 37:36 mark. Chris and Aubielicious answer an #AskCollegeAndMag basketball question and launch into a solid discussion on the current state of the program and what appears to be next.

The pig-calling Razorbacks (12-6, 1-4 SEC) certainly have a lot more to smile about after their first football season under Bert. Arkansas sits at No. 42, according to Kenpom, with a 12-6 record overall. Pre-conference play, Arkansas lost to California and Gonzaga but pulled out a win against Clemson. The Hogs opened SEC play with a loss on the road to Texas A&M, 69-53. They came home to host a Casey Prather-less Florida squad and took the Gators into overtime before falling, 84-82. Mike Anderson wasted no time in getting his guys turned around and ready to welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to Bud Walton Arena. Kentucky limped home after being handed its first conference loss, 87-85 in OT, on a put-back dunk no less. True to form, Arkansas continued its trend of only being able to beat Auburn on the road with consecutive away losses at Georgia, 66-61 in OT, and Tennessee, 81-74. The Razorbacks are 16-4 in home SEC games under Anderson; they're 2-18 in conference road dates. Yes, both wins were against Auburn.

Auburn (8-8, 0-5) slipped from No. 161 to 163 after the loss to Mississippi State. Kenpom predicts a 15-point loss, 87-72, with an 11 percent chance of a win. The Razorbacks are a much better squad than the Bulldogs, so I expect the Tigers to step up their play. It should be closer than expected, but will likely be a hot mess in the final 30 seconds. Do I think Auburn is capable of a win? Always. If the bench can't score, though, it doesn't matter that KT Harrell can rack up 24 points. If Chris Denson can't make free throws, it doesn't matter that he can drive in the lane or make contested threes. If the Tigers can't play defense without fouling, it doesn't matter. As a sidenote, the officiating across the SEC has been horrendous. Lee Cassell is a horrifying sight to any educated college basketball fan. You can't miss him, just look for the ref who looks like he was a Jersey Shore guest star.

Per the usual, here are your team numbers at a glance and the list of expected starters and first guys off the bench.

Team Numbers at a Glance

Auburn Arkansas
Scoring Average 73.6 82.8
Scoring Defense 71.4 69.5
Scoring Margin +2.3 +13.3
Field Goal % .455 .459
Field Goal % Defense .432 .395
3-Point % .330 .358
3-Point % Defense .385 .350
Free Throw % .686 .696
Rebounding Average 35.6 37.5
Rebounding Defense 34.2 38.9
Turnover Average 12.5 11.8
Turnover Margin +0.1 +6.4

Auburn Tigers

The first five on the floor should be guards Tahj Shamsid-Deen (5'10, 163 pounds), Denson (6'2, 181) and Harrell (6'4, 216), forward Allen Payne (6'6, 225), and center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (7'0, 226). Look for point guard Malcolm Canada (6'3, 224) to come in for TSD, center Matthew Atewe (6'9, 250) for ADT, and forwards Dion Wade (6'5, 170) and Alex Thompson (6'8, 204) for Payne.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Anderson started these guys against Tennesee: guard Rashad Madden (6'5, 180), forward Bobby Portis (6'10, 242), forward Coty Clarke (6'7, 232), guard Fred Gulley (6'2, 182) and guard Anthlon Bell (6'3, 188). Key contributors from the bench include guard Kikko Haydar (5'10, 170), guard Madracus Wade (6'2, 178), center Moses Kingsley (6'10, 230), forward Alandise Harris (6'6, 237), guard Michael Qualls (6'6, 210), forward Jacorey Williams (6'8, 218) and guard Rickey Scott (6'3, 209).

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