Hogs to Take on Missouri Tonight at 8

FAYETTEVILLE – Edged by a point Saturday at Alabama but returned to the AP Top 25 Monday  at No. 23 after upending then No. 1 Auburn last Tuesday, the Arkansas Razorbacks SEC rematch vs. the Missouri Tigers tonight in Columbia, Mo.

The SEC Network televised tip-off is 8 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.

Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks come to Columbia 19-6 overall/8-4 in the SEC vs. Mizzou’s 10-14, 4-7.  Arkansas mauled Mizzou, 87-43 in their Jan. 12 at Walton Arena.

The respective records and what happened to Mizzou at Walton “means nothing,” Musselman said. He fully expects Coach Cuonzo Martin’s Tigers regrouping at home.

Mizzou won its last home game, 64-58 last Saturday over an Ole Miss team it led up to 17 points and in a 55-54 loss Jan. 25 in Columbia  nearly upset the then No. 1 Auburn Tigers that Arkansas upended in overtime last week in Fayetteville.

“The first time we played Missouri means nothing just like the first time we play everybody and you’re getting ready for them a second time,” Musselman said. “We already know this game is gonna have a completely different identity than Game One  did. We know who we are and we know this is going to be a really, really difficult game as most games are when you play Coach Martin’s teams. He’s an excellent coach. They play hard. They play together. And they’re hard to beat at home. So, we have to get ready to play this game and turn the page for sure.”

It’s been quite a book the Razorbacks have written with a 9-game winning streak nearly extended to 10 in last Saturday’s 68-67 down to the wire loss  against the tough Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

And no, Musselman said, the Hogs didn’t need the Alabama loss to refocus on Mizzou because they were focused in Tuscaloosa.

I think the way we prepared for Alabama after a really emotional win against Auburn, I’m really proud of our team,” Musselman said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win that basketball game after arguably through the years I’ve been here the most emotional win we’ve had. So, I don’t think there will be any mental thing after the loss.”

Tonight it’s an entirely different entity in Columbia though not without lessons learned from their first meeting.

We know they’ll make adjustments because Coach Martin is a really good coach,” Musselman said.  “I have as much respect for him as any coach in the league.”

Stopping Mizzou begins with impeding 6-8 forward Kobe Brown.

Arkansas did that in Fayetteville holding Brown to six points after he had just scored 30 against Alabama.

Repeating that shutdown in Columbia looms a tough chore.

Amari Davis and Javon Pickett, 13 and 14 points for Mizzou last Saturday against Ole Miss, can be formidable. 

“Brown and Davis can score the ball,” Musselman said.  “Pickett plays hard and attacks the rim and can make a feet-set three. (Jarron) Coleman is a guy who stretches the defense out having made 35 threes on the year.”

 Trevon Brazile, Mizzou’s 6-9 freshman, has become more of a force of late much like Arkansas 6-10 sophomore Jaylin Williams did last season as a freshman, Musselman said.

“He’s no different than a lot of younger big guys that keep getting better,” Musselman said, I think if you look at last year, our team with Jaylin Williams’ growth, I thought he kept getting better and better.  Brazile, he’s shooting the ball at close to 60 percent from the field. Good offensive rebounder. Obviously his shot blocking  (33 shots blocks) ability.”

While wanting the same attitude the Hogs showed in Tuscaloosa Musselman stressed the emphasis in practices in reducing the tendencies of leading Arkansas scorer JD Notae for falling into early foul trouble, especially last Saturday, and the struggles of forward Kamani Johnson, 1 for 4, and especially 6-6 guard/forward Au’Diese Toney, 1 for 11, to finish inside against Alabama.

“A lot of them are self-inflicted and sometimes happen at midcourt,” Musselman said of Notae’s fouls. “That’s what happened when you have  one of the top steals guys in the league. 

He defended the entire day (Sunday’s practice) with a towel over his head held with both hands to try to play without reaching.”

As for Toney and Johnson, Musselman said on Monday morning’s pre-practice Zoom presser, “I can promise you they’re both down there right now with pads shooting over the pads and jumping off two feet. And if they’re not, then they’ll be doing it after practice.  Au’Diese won’t go 1 of 11 because he won’t have the opportunity to get the 11th shot up if he goes 1 for 10.”

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