Three keys for Ole Miss against Arkansas
Five regular season games remain in the college basketball season before conference tournaments kick off next month. Teams are battling for first-round byes in their respective conferences as well as bids into the NCAA Tournament. Here’s where the matchup between Ole Miss and Arkansas on Saturday gets interesting.
Both programs are on two-game winning streaks and are peaking at the right time. In sophomore forward Terence Davis, the Rebels seem to have found another solid scoring option outside of senior forward Sebastian Saiz. Davis scored career-highs in points in his team’s wins over Auburn (26) and LSU (33).
Ole Miss (16-10, 7-6 SEC) will need Davis to continue to play at a high level, especially on the road against the Razorbacks, who are coming off their biggest league win of the season against No. 21 South Carolina on Wednesday. It was Arkansas’ first win over an Associated Press Top 25 team since topping Kentucky, then 17th, on Feb. 27, 2014.
As of right now, the Razorbacks (19-7, 8-5) are in good shape according to Joe Lunardi, who has Arkansas as an 11th seed in the Midwest Region. As for the Rebels, they need to get a couple of marquee wins under their belt to make sure they are in the running.
Beating Arkansas would be a step in the right direction for Ole Miss, who will finish the season at home against the South Carolina Gamecocks. In recent meetings, the Rebels have fared well against the Razorbacks, winning 11 of the last 14–including five of the last six inside Bud Walton Arena.
Today’s game (5:00 p.m., SECN) is important for both teams’ chances of making the big dance.
Three keys for the Rebels to upset Arkansas
1. Contest the 3
Arkansas is deadly from 3-point range. The Razorbacks are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the SEC this season. They rank second in the league in 3-point percentage, making 37.5 percent of their attempts. In the win over South Carolina, Arkansas made 7 of 14 from beyond the arc. Senior guard Dusty Hannahs made four of the seven 3s. Ole Miss will definitely have to pay close attention to the 3-point line.
2. Keep getting to the foul line
The Ole Miss Rebels have done a stellar job getting to the free throw line during their two-game winning streak. Against the Auburn Tigers, Ole Miss made 27 of 31 attempts. Against LSU on Tuesday, the Rebels converted on 18 of 20 attempts. Ole Miss has hit 126 of 148 from the foul line over the last six games. The Rebels lead the league, making 75.9 percent of their attempts, and rank first in the conference and fourth nationally in free throws made this season with 508.
3. Limit Moses Kingsley
Senior forward Moses Kingsley leads Arkansas in the rebounding category, averaging 7.5 boards a game. He also ranks third on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Against the Gamecocks, Kingsley pulled down seven rebounds to go along with his 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting in 29 minutes of action. Kingsley’s numbers have gone down compared to last season’s averages of 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds, but he’s still a force Ole Miss must try to contain for a full 40 minutes.
Ole Miss and Arkansas will tip off at Bud Walton Arena (19,200) at 5:00 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised on the SEC Network. Jon Sunvold will handle analyst duties, while Dave Neal will call play-by-play. Ole Miss won the last meeting between the two, 76-60, on February 13, 2016.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.