Thu December 14, 2023

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Preview vs Lipscomb
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas will finally return to action on Saturday when they take on Lipscomb in The Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock.

Arkansas (6-4) enters the game coming off a 79-70 loss to undefeated Oklahoma. Lipscomb (7-5) enters the game coming off a 78-71 win over Tennessee State. Eric Musselman talked about what the team has been doing since they last played on Saturday.

"We’ve had two great practices, but this group’s been a pretty good practice group all year," Musselman said. "So to say we’ve had two great practices, it still has to correlate to the game. Because I do think this group has a spirit about itself in practice … but we’ve also had some guys that aren’t great practice players and they go out in a game and do damage in a positive way.

"We have had good practices. They’ve been very competitive. More live stuff than we’ve done since I’ve been at Arkansas. Guarding the ball full court one-on-one. Guarding the ball on the wing 45-degree angle one-on-one. We have not done any of our breakdown drills. We have done no station work. I mentioned it the other night on the radio show, that we have added our opportunity break and our open offense to try to get the ball to move from side to side and get more people involved. And then the last piece of all this, which won’t won’t be decided until probably Saturday, is what the rotation looks like and who starts and all those things. So that’s kind of where it is."

Forward Trevon Brazile injured his ankle against Furman, but tried to play against Oklahoma. He didn't score in 15:21 and obviously wasn't himself. How has his ankle responded in practice this week?

"TB has not practiced," Musselman said. "He has not practiced on Monday or Tuesday. He’s been with the trainer. We’ll see how he is later today when we’re about to practice. I would anticipate him jumping in and doing some stuff today. Probably, well not probably, won’t do anything live. So if most of our practice is live, that means he won’t involved in much."

Musselman has talked about changing the rotation some. When you do it 10 games in is it open competition in practice or that you have seen in the games?

"I think a little of both, especially when we’ve gone more competition in the last two days," Musselman said. "And it’s also just about, does somebody not have an opportunity as opposed to someone that has had an opportunity.

"So obviously defensively, not up to standards of what we’ve had the last nine years. Something’s got to give there. We’ve had some great games of ball movement and played really well in those, and we’ve had some other games of not good ball movement. So something’s got to give there."

Musselman was asked about Lipscomb and what they do well?

"Lipscomb is 49th in the country in made threes [at] nine per game, so we’ve got to defend the three," Musselman said. "They’re 58th in the country in three-point attempts. They average 26 per game. That’s a pretty high number. Number 0, (AJ) McGinnis, he leads them in three-point percentage. He can play the 2, 3, 4. He’s 42% from three on 5.6 attempts per game. You know, 60% of their shots are threes. 30% of their shots are mid-range, so you know, they’re a really good offensive team."

The game will also provide an opportunity for Layden Blocker and Davonte "Devo" Davis to play closer to their homes.

"I’m sure that there is excitement (and) there’s extra family members that are able to come," Musselman said. "You don’t want any distractions. It’s a different environment.  Usually, when you go on a road trip and you go out to dinner, fans aren't asking for pictures and autographs. When you’re in the hotel… but when we go play this game and we go to eat on Friday night, there’s going to be fans that are going to be coming up. You want to eliminate as many distractions as you can. I don't go speak anywhere else on a road trip. I’m going to speak on Friday to a group, so all of us have to understand that this is a game. We’ve got to stay focused. We’ve got to get ready to compete in a game that is a one-time game in front of what will be a sold-out building we would assume. A very very important game in my opinion."

The game will tip at 5 p.m. and can be streamed on the SEC Network+.