Hogs vs Mizzou Advance

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – On ESPN2 viewers can view Arkansas vs. Mizzou II at 3 p.m Saturday at Missouri’s Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.
Part I was all Mizzou. Coach Cuonzo Martin’s Tigers bullied Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks, 81-68 back on Jan. 2 for Arkansas’ lone home loss this season at Walton Arena.
At first blush the national rankings indicate a Saturday similar result. The Tigers, 13-4 overall, 6-4 in the SEC rank 10th in the AP poll.
The Razorbacks are unranked. However take note that Musselman’s men, 15-5 overall, rank a half game ahead, 7-4 to 6-4, of Mizzou in the SEC standings. Arkansas, tied for SEC second with Tennessee and LSU, has won five consecutive SEC games including 81-80 last Tuesday at Kentucky.
Mizzou, recently at its SEC zenith as the only SEC team to beat the first-place 11-1 Alabama Crimson Tide, inexplicably floundered in an 80-59 loss last Wednesday night at Ole Miss.
Before anticipating Mizzou misery Saturday, take note that Mizzou had just lost by 20 at home to Tennessee before in Fayetteville flogging the Hogs.
“Last time we played them they were coming off a loss and this time it’s the same thing” Musselman said. “So we have to understand what you’re walking into. We’ve played good basketball of late but every game is different. You’ve got to earn wins.”
Expect both coaches demanding their teams out to earn all they can Saturday.
Mizzou’s miserable misgivings in Mississippi don’t sit well with Martin. His teams inevitably play hard and physical but flat didn’t Wednesday in Oxford, Miss.
“We didn’t have that edge,” Martin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’ve got to defend, rebound and play hard. Some guys just didn’t give it tonight. Some guys didn’t show up.”
The Hogs, on Jan. 2 without since returned from the injured list forward Justin Smith, believe they have a score to settle.
Especially since from Musselman the Hogs post that Jan. 2 game heard and then read in the papers heard much the same that Mizzou’s Tigers heard postgame at Ole Miss about toughness and want-to.
“Certainly, we couldn’t score,” Musselman said during the Mizzou postgame in Fayetteville. “Couldn’t get open, couldn’t finish at the rim, we couldn’t rebound, we couldn’t defend. People saw the game. What’d they shoot? 47%. We shot 26%.”
He’s kinder in retrospect with Smith back and five consecutive SEC games won.
“We’re a different team,”Musselman said. “We had to play small ball because of Justin not being available. And I thought for that stretch there we were really discombobulated for sure as far as roles, rotations. We weren’t a very good rebounding team without him. I think our team is certainly different than it was against Missouri the last time.”
A major difference this time would be if the Hogs could render Jeremiah Tilmon, the senior 6-10 behemoth truly a Tiger with 25 points and 11 rebounds in Fayetteville, closer to the mere six points and six rebounds he recorded in Oxford.
Another would be holding Mizzou guard Xavier Pinson to something like the six points/zero free throws attempted in Oxford vs. Pinson’s 23 points in Fayetteville including 12 of 15 free throws.
Easier said than done. Tilmon and Pinson generally play closer to their Fayetteville peak than their Oxford valley.
Also they generally get plenty of help from the Smith brothers. Not actually brothers but all Smith’s are Mizzou starting guards Dru Smith and Mark Smith and sixth-man senior forward Mitch Smith, Mizzou’s Arkansan via Van Buren.
Arkansas netted 19 points from sixth-man guard JD Notae against Mizzou and an 18-points/10 rebounds from freshman starting guard Moses Moody and a good off the bench performance from freshman center Jaylin Williams.
Though still battling through a shoulder injury, Desi Sills, 1 for 11 against Mizzou, and 7-3 center Connor Tilmon, 0 for 11against Mizzou in Fayetteville but a healthy key in the last games beating Mississippi State and Kentucky, surely will produce more Saturday in Columbia than their first go-round vs. Mizzou.
“We had two guys go 1 for 22 together,” Musselman reminded media on Thursday’s Zoom press conference. “I mean I think if I paired myself with any of you guys we could 1 out of 22.”

ARKANSAS (15-5, 7-4)

F-Justin Smith 6-7 Sr. 11.1pts. 6.5 rebs.
C-Connor Vanover 7-3 So. 7.7 5.7
G-Jalen Tate 6-6 Sr. 10.9 3.7
G-Moses Moody 6-6 Fr. 16.3 5.7
G-Davonte Davis 6-3 Fr. 6.6 3.5

MISSOURI (13-4, 6-4)

F-Kobe Brown 6-7 So. 6.8 pts. 5.8 rebs.
C-Jeremiah Tilmon 6-10 Sr. 12.8 7.8
G-Xavier Pinson 6-2 Jr. 14.2 3.1
G-Dru Smith 6-3 Sr. 14.2 3.8
G-Mark Smith 6-5 Sr. 10.1 2.4

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