Most Seton Hall fans are unlike Khadeen Carrington: they were not able to see Arkansas play as recently as Saturday and probably unable to all season.
Like you, I haven’t seen the Razorbacks play since they bowed out to North Carolina in the second round of the 2014-15 tournament as a five-seed. But I have compiled 10 quick-hitting facts about former Missouri coach Mike Anderson’s team and three keys for Seton Hall victory below.
10 things to know
1) Anderson is in his sixth year at Arkansas but was also an assistant for an incredible 17 years (1985-02) under the coveted Nolan Richardson era though he left for UAB just prior to their 1993-94 national title.
2) Arkansas has been held to 65 points or less over their last three losses and are 15-0 when scoring 80 or more points; the Razorbacks are 26th in offensive efficiency and 95th in tempo.
3) Utilizing a deeper nine-man rotation, Anderson has used the same starting five for Arkansas’ last eight games. Expect a three-guard, two-forward look to begin with a pair of forwards and guards coming off the bench.
4) Class-wise, Arkansas is more-veteran than Seton Hall as they have eight juniors or seniors that pitch in while guard Anton Beard (7.4 ppg), center Moses Kingsley (11.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.6 bpg), and wing Manuale Watkins (6.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) all have an NCAA win under their belt with Arkansas’ 2015 tournament team.
5) Like Seton Hall to a degree, Arkansas has no true standout point guard and instead rely on assists by committee: Daryl Macon (13.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg) leads the team with 2.2 assists per game; five guys average 1.6 or more.
6) While the Hall has a bunch of talent from the NY/NJ area, this truly is an SEC team they are facing. On their official roster, here is the hometown breakdown by state: AR (6), AL (1), LA (1), Tenn (1), Mo (1), TX (1), IN (1), INT’L (1)
7) Most schools have more options from long range than Seton Hall, but that doesn’t look to be the case with Arkansas. They have three, maybe four guys who are dangerous from three, which they don’t rely on heavily (309th). Macon (62/162, 38%); leading scorer Dusty Hannahs (70/184, 38%); Anton Beard (30/85, 35%); Jaylen Barford (28/102, 27%).
8) Arkansas has two players who shoot over 87-percent from the line and are effective there as a result: 22-percent of their points (50th) come from the stripe where they shoot 76-percent (25th) as a group.
9) Measuring in at 6-foot-10, the second Kingsley center that Seton Hall will see this year (Kingsley Okoroh, Cal.) sports the 20th-best block percentage in the country and was also thrown out of the SEC title game for a nasty flagrant two.
10) Despite their higher tempo and lack of a true point guard, Arkansas does not turn the ball over much (44th) although they are highly prone to offensive rebounds (326th) and as a side-effect, long defensive possessions which can favor Seton Hall.
Three keys to victory:
Slow the pace and play Seton Hall basketball. Arkansas will want to push the tempo and play at a speed which is comfortable to them while the Pirates are more than O.K. with a game in the 60s that resembles something we saw at the Big East Tournament; the Razorbacks are undefeated when they reach the 80-point threshold. There’s usually no stopping a team that wants to play fast completely — focus on how and how effectively Seton Hall tries to pump the brakes.
The battle in the paint. In more than one way, the interior battle will reign supreme on Friday afternoon. Arkansas will look to try and get into it to draw fouls and get to the line while Moses Kingsley vs. Angel Delgado will be a physical match-up that you wont want to miss. Unlike Marquette and Villanova, Seton Hall will be afforded the chance to collapse their defense just a hair to protect the interior; a hobbled but recovering Ish Sanogo will remain a key figure in the Hall’s defensive effort.
A major key to disrupting Arkansas’ style will be offensive rebounds. And thankfully for Seton Hall, that is something they are pretty good (24th) at doing. Defending their own glass is one of Arkansas’ lone statistical weaknesses and what can be more debilitating than having to defend on multiple possessions in a row? Seton Hall did a good job of crashing the boards with Mike Nzei, Sanogo, and of course Delgado in New York — those three guys will need to do the same to stop a Razorback attack before it gets started.