Date: Tuesday, February 3
Time: 6:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
All-Time Series: Arkansas leads 34-19
Most Recent Matchup: February 2019, Auburn won 79-56.
2019-20 Record: 19-2 (6-2)
Head Coach: Bruce Pearl (6th season, 119-74)
In February of 1999, the #2 Auburn Tigers came to Bud Walton Arena to face the unranked Razorbacks. Many Arkansas fans have said that was the loudest The Bud has ever been. The Hogs would win the game 104-88 behind 23 points from Pat Bradley and the Arkansas faithful would storm the court in BWA for the very first time.
21 years later, Auburn returns to BWA ranked again. The Tigers made two other trips to Hill while ranked in that time span, but this one is different. Auburn is coming off the greatest season in program history. Their trip to the Final 4 last year was the story of March Madness. Because Auburn is coming off a win against Kentucky. They are the class of the SEC right now. That is why Tuesday’s game is different.
Bryce Brown, Chuma Okeke, and Jared Harper all moved on to professional basketball after last season, but the Tigers have reloaded. Samir Doughty and J’Von McCormick have both made huge strides to lead this team. Both players have more than doubled their scoring production this year. Freshman phenom Isaac Okoro is as advertised. He has been outstanding for Head Coach Bruce Pearl.
This Auburn team is gifted with length. The Tigers have seven players that are 6-5 or taller that have appeared in every game this season. They rebound at an extremely high level and get to the free throw line at a very high rate. Where Auburn struggles is shooting the ball. They are ranked 291st in the country in 3-point percentage.
2019-20 Record: 16-5 (4-4)
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Mason Jones is Co-SEC Player of the Week for the third time this season. Jones is the only player in the SEC to receive the honor 3 times this season. Jones is coming off a great week where he scored over 30 points in back to back games. No Razorback has accomplished that feat since Jannero Pargo in the early 2000s.
Head Coach Eric Musselman said on Monday that Isaiah Joe would be considered “day-to-day” for 2 to 3 weeks. His availability will largely depend on how his knee feels on game days, and Trainer Mark O’Neal will have the final say. Even though this has been a “sophomore slump” year for Joe, his ability to space the floor is invaluable to Arkansas’ offense. The Hogs need him to play.
I have really struggled on this prediction. Auburn had yet to impress me until they were able to beat Kentucky on Saturday. Their schedule has been weak and they have had many close wins.
The matchup just is not favorable for the Hogs. Auburn’s length will cause major problems on the boards. With that said, Auburn has had some rough starts on the road this year. Bud Walton will be the toughest environment they have faced this year.
Arkansas is 3-0 all-time facing a ranked Auburn team in Fayetteville. Therefore, I will give the Hogs the edge this time!
Score Prediction: Arkansas 78, Auburn 73
Like many in our state, I didn’t have a choice in who my favorite team would be growing up. I was raised on Razorback. I remember watching the early season games on ARSN or conference games on JP Sports. My first favorite players were Brandon Dean and Joe Johnson. Great memories. I never thought years ago I would be writing about Arkansas Basketball. I don’t have a journalism background or anything like that. When given the opportunity, I wanted to challenge myself with something new and it has been a blast!