Breaking Down Arkansas’ Chances Against the OrangePosted by DPerry on November 30th, 2012
The SEC/Big East Challenge tipped off last night with the SEC’s supposed two top teams putting in drastically different performances. The #8 Kentucky Wildcats were run off the floor by host Notre Dame, while the #7 Florida Gators dominated visiting Marquette from start to finish. Each conference left the competition’s opening night with two wins apiece with four more games on tap tonight.
Friday night’s games do not appear to give the SEC much of an opportunity to pull ahead in the Challenge, though, and the match-up between Syracuse and Arkansas looks like an especially one-sided contest. However, this SEC microsite writer won’t be shocked if the Razorbacks do enough to pull off a shocker. Here are three reasons why:
- Depth- Second-year Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is fully committed to “The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball.” Running and pressing are necessities for his teams, and for that to work, Anderson requires a deep bench. Through the season’s first five games, 10 players are averaging more than 12 minutes/game, with no one being relied upon for more than 28 per contest. This heavy rotation allows Arkansas to continually attack on offense and defense, a strategy Syracuse doesn’t often see in their Big East opponents. If the Razorbacks can stay within striking distance through the opening stages of the game, they’ll undoubtedly be fresher than the more talented Orange late in the second half.
- Bud Walton Arena- SEC schools are sometimes mocked within college basketball circles for their fans’ apathy. This is certainly a fair criticism for some schools in the nation’s premier football conference, but Arkansas doesn’t fit that mold. Razorback fans love their basketball. Almost 20,000 people will be crammed into Bud Walton tonight for the school’s most high profile non-conference home game in years. The Stan Heath and John Pelphrey years are now only a memory, and with Anderson doing his best to recreate the Nolan Richardson style of basketball, there’s a bit of a revival in Fayetteville. Syracuse is notorious for avoiding tough non-conference road games, and a rowdy and unfamiliar destination like Arkansas isn’t a recipe for success.
- BJ Young- Many teams struggle against Syracuse’s stifling 2-3 zone defense, a system not widely utilized in college basketball. Teams that are unfamiliar with how to attack this defense are best served if they have a creative offensive producer who is capable of exploding for a huge night. BJ Young is that guy. The sophomore guard scores in a variety of ways, and has the devastating first step that is necessary to beat an athletic Orange backcourt. This season, Young has shown that he has a propensity to draw contact and get to the line, one of few weaknesses in his offensive game from a year ago. For the Razorbacks to stand a chance against Syracuse, an aggressive and efficient offensive performance from Young is an absolute necessity.