Preview: Tennessee at No. 25 Arkansas

    by -

    Armani Moore-1-5

    Tennessee (12-6) at No. 25 Arkansas (15-4)

    Tuesday, Jan. 27th, 9:05 p.m. ET

    Bud Walton Arena (19,200) • Fayetteville, ARK

    TV: ESPNU

    Probable Arkansas Starters

    G-Anthlon Bell, 6-1, 185, JR (8.8 ppg, .346 3FG%)

    G-Michael Qualls, 6-6, 205, JR (16.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

    G-Rashad Madden, 6-5, 182, SR (10.2 ppg, 4.9 apg)

    F-Alandise Harris, 6-10, 230, SO (7.7 ppg, .485 FG%)

    F-Bobby Portis, 6-11, 242, SO (17.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg)

    Probable Tennessee Starters

    G-Josh Richardson, 6-6, 200, SR (15.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

    G-Kevin Punter, 6-4, 180, JR (10.7 ppg, .429 3FG%)

    G-Robert Hubbs, 6-6, 206, SO (6.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

    F-Armani Moore, 6-5, 215, JR (9.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg)

    F-Derek Reese, 6-8, 220, JR, (5.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

    Setting the Table 

    Tennessee’s three-game SEC road winning streak will be tested in a big way when the Vols face Arkansas on Tuesday night. Donnie Tyndall’s team is coming off a home loss to Texas A&M in which they looked complacent at times – a similar effort against the Razorbacks would likely result in a blowout. Arkansas has won two straight but they’re not playing particularly great ball either. They beat Alabama by two in their last home game and won by one on the road at Missouri on Saturday. 

    In the last matchup between the Vols and Razorbacks, Tennessee emerged victorious (74-69) thanks to some tenacious defense and a +12 margin in points off turnovers. As has been the case for years, Arkansas is extremely tough to beat at home – they’re 11-1 inside Bud Walton Arena this season and 61-7 during Mike Anderson’s 3+ years at the helm. 

    The Vols have won eight of their last 10 games while the Razorbacks have won nine of their last 11. Tennessee and Arkansas are both 4-2 in SEC play and in a five-way tie for second in the league standings. Arkansas has the second-highest RPI in the SEC at No. 23 while the Volunteers sit at No. 55 in the NCAA’s latest official rankings.

    A win would give Tennessee a stunning 4-0 SEC road record, keep them in second place in the league standings and add a stellar road win to their resume.

    Quotable

    “When I was the assistant at LSU, we played there a couple times over my four years. We played at Arizona two years ago. In my opinion, those two places were the loudest two places I’ve ever played in. I’m sure it will be another very crazy atmosphere on Tuesday.

    “I’ve always said, even with us, our press is always going to better on our home floor because that extra energy and extra juice the players get from the home crowd. So there’s no doubt about it their press will be that much better, and it was good here, but it will be even better on the road. When they make runs, they start chanting and all the things those fans do at Arkansas. It gets pretty electric in there. It will be tough.”

    – Tennessee Head Coach Donnie Tyndall on the challenges of playing at Arkansas

    Injuries

    Freshman Vol power forward Jabari McGhee is likely out for the season after foot surgery. Junior Guard Devon Baulkman will be playing with a torn ligament in his left shoulder, but he has been effective. Ian Chiles, who missed significant time this season due to toe and shoulder injuries, had surgery on his injured shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.

    3 keys for the Vols

    1. Limit Turnovers: The key to beating Arkansas has long been to limit turnovers and this game is no different. Tennessee beat the Razorbacks two weeks ago thanks to a +4 turnover margin – Arkansas is 12-0 when forcing at least 15 turnovers this season. They’re one of the most talented teams in the nation and the Vols simply can’t afford to let them play in the open floor. Ole Miss committed just 11 turnovers in their win at Bud Walton Arena this season – it’ll take a similar effort in that department for the Vols to pull off the upset.

    2. Take and Make Good 3s: In their three conference road wins, the Vols are shooting 45% (23-51) from the floor from deep. The Vols shot 50% from 3 in two of their three SEC road wins and 46% from 3-point range in their earlier win over Arkansas. That starts with taking good shots – Tennessee can’t launch 29 shots from deep like they did against Texas A&M and win. Fortunately for the Vols, Arkansas isn’t a great team defensively. They’re allowing conference opponents to shoot 46% from deep so far this season and the Volunteers will have their share of open looks if they run their offense.

    3. Don’t Let Portis or Qualls Take Over: Portis and Qualls are the top scoring duo in the SEC at 33.9 points per game. They’re going to score, but the Vols don’t have the firepower to overcome 40+ points from them. Qualls has eclipsed the 20 point mark in eight games this season while Portis has done so seven times. Each of them have a 30 point game in league play as well.  The Vols have to hold them near their average to have a shot at the upset. 

    Predictions

    KenPom.com: Arkansas 76-68
    Daniel: Arkansas 70-57
    Houston: Arkansas 76-63
    Reed: Arkansas 78-68