Date: Friday, November 22
Time: 8:00pm CDT
TV/Streaming: SEC Network
2019-20 Record: 5-0
Head Coach: Todd Lee (2nd season, 18-17)
Todd Lee’s squad is off to their best start since 2016-17. 5-0 with all wins coming against Division 1 opponents and 3 of them away from home. The Coyotes have a very experienced team with 5 seniors and 2 juniors led by leading scorer Tyler Hagedorn.
Hagedorn is averaging 16.4ppg and 6.4rpg on 63% shooting from the field. He is a threat from deep as well shooting an incredible 84%(!) from 3. Seniors Tyler Peterson and Triston Simpson hold down the backcourt with both averaging double figures. Stanley Umude has played the 4 spot and is their 2nd leading scorer. The Coyotes are shooting at almost unbelievable clip to start the season. 51.1% from 3 point range.
2019-20 Record: 4-0
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
Coach Eric Musselman has been “shocked” at his roster’s ability to transition for this new system. In a press conference previewing South Dakota, Musselman was asked how he thought his players were handling an “NBA” scouting report. “Shocked” was the word Musselman used. The evidence is clearly seen on the court this season.
Musselman was asked Thursday why Mason Jones sat for the finals 13+ minutes of Tuesday’s game against Texas Southern. “Focus. I felt like he needed to be a little more focused on both ends of the floor.” Jones was challenged by Musselman in the preseason and his play has been outstanding. I look forward to seeing how Jones responded this time.
Arkansas has held opponents to 8 of 69 from the 3 this season while South Dakota has shot 47 of 92. Something has to give. Arkansas has swarmed guards all season forcing an average of 23 turnovers a game. Can the Hogs force turnovers and keep the 3 point shots contested?
South Dakota does not have overwhelming size, but Tyler Hagedorn will cause some issues inside for the Hogs. Boxing out will be key. Force turnovers and limit 2nd chance points.
I believe this is the first game all season that Arkansas has been in danger of losing from a matchup standpoint. South Dakota plays fundamental basketball with few turnovers. While the Coyotes have yet to play anyone close to Arkansas’ level, they have given up an average of 68.8 points. That is average in the points allowed department. I think the Hogs will be able to score the ball.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 77, South Dakota 67
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!