GameNight: Texas at Arkansas

January 6th, 2009
Jan 6 2009 - 9:05pm

Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay

 

Season:

15-5

 

 

#7 Texas (11-2) travels to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas (11-1), where the Razorbacks are 9-0 this season including a win over #4 Oklahoma.  This will be each team’s final tune-up before they open conference play and ESPN2 will carry the action with nearly 19,000 ‘Hogs hoops fans ready to holler at Bud Walton Arena. 

 

Arkansas lost 86% of its scoring from last season, but the young Razorbacks are still soaring under second-year coach John Pelphrey.  Arkansas has won 8-straight games while scoring at least 79 points in seven of those wins, including 96 against Oklahoma.  Michael Washington has flourished at forward his junior season, leading the Razorbacks in scoring and rebounding (17/10) He poured in 24 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes a week ago in the win over Oklahoma and his battle with Blake Griffin.  Three freshman start for Arkansas, including point guard Courtney Fortson, last season’s Mr. Basketball from Alabama.  The sub-6 foot guard is a stat sheet stuffer with over 15ppg, 7apg and surprisingly over five rebounds per game. 

 

Washington will need help inside from freshman forward Michael Sanchez and Marcus Monk, a reserve who joined the team in December after playing wide receiver for the football team. Arkansas has actually out-rebounded opponents by 10 boards per game.  However, Texas features a formidable front line led by Damion James (14ppg/9rpg).  A pair of 6-10 big bodies patrol the paint in skilled senior Connor Atchley and 300lb Dexter Pittman.  Gary Johnson is another big body off the bench that provides good energy and intensity for the ‘Horns while getting over six rebounds per game and 10ppg.   However, Texas is led by small senior guard A.J. Abrams, a 19ppg player that can score from anywhere on the floor.   The match-up between Abrams and Fortson will be worth watching with their skills and scoring ability.  Both players also provide a defensive dimension along the perimeter with their quickness and athletic ability.   Texas is holding opponents to fewer than 60ppg and less than 39% shooting from the field including under 31% from the arch.  They pull down 40 rpg and lead the Big 12 in blocked shots with over six per contest.  The Longhorns weakness has been at the free throw line where they make under 64% of their shots, but the Razorbacks also struggle at the charity stripe averaging just 65%.  

 

Texas has played the toughest non-conference schedule of any Big-12 team with wins over UCLA and Wisconsin and close losses to Michigan State and Notre Dame.   The Longhorns out-rebounded all four of those opponents and have more experience and team togetherness than the young Razorbacks.  Texas should be inspired for this non-conference game knowing Arkansas beat Oklahoma.  John Pelphrey is doing a great job with his young team, but tonight the ‘Horns will hurt his ‘Hogs with too much strength inside. 

 

Winner:  Texas                  Margin 4-8 points.