After a rough start, the Hoosiers pulled through against the St. Francis Red Flash and earned themselves another date with the Razorbacks. The Hoosiers already played the Razorbacks earlier this season, where Indiana lost by a single end of game tip-in that did not fall true in Bud Walton Arena. Ironically if that bucket went in, the Hoosiers may have ended up in a different tournament altogether.
Instead of waiting until next season to visit Bloomington, the Razorbacks come into town but this time they will not have the services of sophomore Daniel Gafford.
He has averaged just a hair shy of 17 points per game and he is the points, rebounds, and assists leader of the 18-15 Razorbacks. In the SEC, those numbers are good for 4th in points per game, 2nd in rebounds per game, and 3rd in blocks per game.
Hoosier fans should breath a big sigh of relief given that Gafford had little to no resistance against the Hoosier during their first outing. He ended that game with 27 points and 12 rebounds in their 73-72 victory over the Hoosiers.
Indiana also had trouble against Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson and generally do not play well against a forceful, sized presence in between the lanes for the opponent. Defensively, the pack line relies on denying the feed into the middle at all costs. If that pass cannot be denied, then it is not a fun time for the Hoosiers.
The Razorbacks came off of an exciting win over Providence in the opening round of the NIT where Mason Jones led the Razorbacks with 18 points from 5 of 8 shooting and a perfect 4 of 4 behind the charity stripe.
Meet the Razorbacks
- Daryl Macon – 6’3” / 185 lbs / Guard – Little Rock, AR. Graduated. Macon, one of the heroes for the Razorbacks at the end of last season provided the Razorbacks with a 16.8 points per game average.
- Jaylen Barford – 6’3” / 202 lbs / Guard – Jackson, TN. Graduated. The leading scorer for the team last year, Barford produced 17.9 points per game.
- Anton Beard – 6’0” / 195 lbs / Guard – North Little Rock, AR. Graduated.
- Darious Hall – 6’6” / 210 lbs / Forward – Little Rock, AR. Transferred to DePaul.
- CJ Jones – 6’5” / 175 lbs / Guard – Birmingham, AL. Transferred to Middle Tennessee State University.
- Trey Thompson – 6’9” / 265 lbs / Forward – Madison, AR. Graduated.
- Dustin Thomas – 6’8” / 225 lbs / Forward – Texarkana, TX. Dismissed from the team due to a violation of team rules.
- Arlando Cook – 6’8” / 215 lbs / Forward – St. Louis, MO. Graduated.
- Daniel Gafford – 6’11” / 233 lbs / Forward – El Dorado, AR. Projected NBA lottery pick that returned back to Arkansas for his second year. He has announced that he will sit out the NIT in preparation for the NBA draft.
- Gabe Osabuohien – 6’8″ / 221 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Toronto, Canada. Gabe has provided side-by-side minutes to Gafford all season and he has slotted in the main front court position now that Daniel is sitting out for the NIT. He put up 11 points and 8 rebounds in the first round match up against Providence.
- Adrio Bailey – 6’6” / 222 lbs / Forward / Junior – Campti, LA. Bailey lost his starting role during the regular season to Osabuohien, but has contributed minutes along the way. Bailey now gets the starting nod once again with Gafford out.
- Jalen Harris – 6’2” / 166 lbs / Guard / Redshirt Sophomore – Wilson, NC. Transfer from New Mexico that has been a valuable add for Mike Anderson’s young team. Harris is the key facilitator with 5.5 assists per game, which is good for top 5 in the SEC.
- Desi Sills – 6’2” / 196 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Jonesboro, AR. The freshman star has impressed Mike Anderson enough to earn a starting role on the team in the guard position. He the deepest threat for the Razorbacks, shooting over 43% behind the arc.
- Isaiah Joe – 6’5” / 167 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Fort Smith, AR. Shooting guard from in-state that is the only freshman in the starting lineup. Joe is the second leading scorer on the team, being behind only to Daniel Gafford.
- Ethan Henderson – 6’8” / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Little Rock, AR.
- Keyshawn Embery-Simpson – 6’3” / 202 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Midwest City, OK.
- Reggie Chaney – 6’8” / 222 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Tulsa, OK.
- Mason Jones – 6’5” / 207 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Desoto, TX. Mason Jones led the team in scoring in the first round NIT game against Providence and he is currently average 13.8 points per game.
- Ethan Henderson – 6’8″ / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Little Rock, AR.
- Other rotation players: Ibrahim Ali, Jonathan Holmes (W), Ty Stevens (W)
What to Watch For
- Without Gafford and with more Hoosiers. Importantly, the Hoosiers will not be facing Daniel Gafford and that is certainly the biggest storyline of this match up. However, it’s important to remember that the Hoosiers were without the services of Zach McRoberts, Devonte Green, and Race Thompson who all have an opportunity to play on Saturday. The lineups are dramatically different between the two meet ups.
- Who will step up for Daniel Gafford? As mentioned Gabe Osabuohien is slotted in the main front-court role while Gafford is out, but will other players step up in his place in an unfamiliar arena? Mason Jones had no problem being the next go-to person in the NIT first round at Providence. Does Arkansas have someone else to match up?
- Will Romeo Return? Langford scored a team high 22 points in Fayetteville earlier in the season. Depending on how ready he is to go, it could be change in style of how Arkansas will defend the Hoosiers. Romeo Langford is eager to get back in action after being out for the only game this season on Tuesday. Early reports indicate that Romeo Langford may be sitting out a second consecutive NIT game.
- Devonte Green is Indiana’s most important player. If there is one player that has taken advantage of the end of seasons, it’s Devonte Green. He had a similar burst at the end of the 2017-2018 season as well. Green has averaged 15.6 points per game and 4.0 assists per game over the last five games.
- Re game-planning against the press. The Hoosiers will get a second look at Mike Anderson’s defense, which makes guard play ever so important. The Hoosiers will need to establish great caretaking of the ball and look forward to offense transition buckets where they can take advantage of the Razorback defense before it gets to be established. Hopefully the Hoosiers react better with the additional guards on the team.
Jerome Hunter will not be available due to a lower leg injury.
Romeo Langford did not play in the NIT first round due to back soreness and his status is still unclear. Early reports indicate that Romeo Langford is not likely to play.
Race Thompson was out due to illness and similarly has not yet had an updated status.
Daniel Gafford will be sitting out the NIT in preparation for the NBA draft.
Arkansas also is without the service of guard Jordan Phillips (knee) and guard Kahlil Garland. Both are out indefinitely.
How to Watch
|Date||Saturday, March 23rd|
|Time||12:00 PM EST|