Auburn travels to Arkansas for a 9 p.m. ET (SEC Network) tipoff against the Razorbacks
Arkansas (10-4) has hit a cold spell following its win at Auburn, losing four out of five games since then. However, only one of those losses was at home.
Auburn (8-6) has also had an eventful stretch since losing to Arkansas. The Tigers have lost three out of five games, but they are 2-1 since Sharife Cooper returned to the lineup.
What I like: Auburn has momentum, and Arkansas still has two guys (Justin Smith and JD Notae) not at 100-percent. Auburn also had a lot of success in the Arkansas game in Auburn Arena, despite not having Cooper available. As usual, Auburn will have the advantage in height. That didn’t mean much in recent games, with Auburn giving up crucial rebounds, but Auburn won the rebounding battle against Arkansas in the last meeting. Auburn’s rim protection has been on another level recently, which could make the size difference more noticeable. I think Auburn’s offense with Cooper can go blow for blow with Arkansas, without turning the ball over 18 times.
What I don’t like: Arkansas picked apart Auburn’s defense in the last meeting. The Razorbacks scored 97 points in a 12-point win, despite Auburn shooting better from the field and from three, winning the rebounding battle and having more assists. It’s hard to imagine Auburn’s defense laying another egg, and Auburn’s offense turning the ball over 18 times with Cooper back in the mix, but Arkansas had an answer for every Auburn basket and run last time. Auburn will also be without Justin Powell.
Bottom line: I expect an offense heavy game tonight. Both teams like to push the pace, pressure opposing offenses and shoot a lot of threes. Auburn’s achilles heel in the last meeting was Arkansas’ pressure defense, which resulted in 18 turnovers. Powell, Jaylin Williams and Allen Flanigan combined for 17 of those. Cooper is good at breaking presses and should lower than number. The question will be if Auburn can get consistent shooting and scoring on the road to hang with Arkansas for the full game. I think they will, and I think Cooper will have a good game and lead Auburn to a win.