(Photo Credit: @RazorbackMBB)
After an exciting victory at Assembly Hall against Marquette, Indiana has the opportunity to further boost their resume going prior to the weekly AP voting. Indiana travels to Sunday to visit the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena.
Can Indiana carry the momentum from a team-defining win on Wednesday on to the road? The freshmen will travel on the road for their first true road environment with opposing fans in the stands. Romeo Langford has handled pressure from road environments during high school, but that does not compare to a collegiate environment like Bud Walton, especially considering that many road environments across the state of Indiana cheered for Romeo once Indiana became a more realistic option for his college selection.
The rest of the freshmen class will also get the opportunity to display their maturity – a recurring theme for the newcomers, specifically Rob Phinisee. Considering Indiana’s injuries, Archie will be heavily relying on them to be a major portion of Indiana’s production.
Head coach Mike Anderson is now currently in his 8th year with the Razorbacks and his team was able to garner a 23 win season last year. They eventually fell to Butler in the NCAA first round. Arkansas, one of the younger teams in the SEC, interestingly has one of the top NBA prospects in the SEC in Daniel Gafford but has been projected to finish in the latter half of the league due to their roster turnover.
On offense, the Razorbacks use a motion offense that includes a lot of ball swing action around the perimeter. The goal is to survey the defense until off-ball movement opens an angle to pass into the block where 6’11” Daniel Gafford will gladly take out an opponent to lunch. When passing lanes are not available, the Razorbacks have no problem shooting from the distance as they have hit 8 three pointers in each of their first two games.
Notable for Arkansas’s defense is their tendency to press. Without more experienced guards, Archie Miller has a bit of coaching to do before the game on Sunday to properly scheme against the press. The Razorbacks apply heavy and early ball pressure and are looking to double-trap players in the backcourt if the opportunity is there.
So far, Arkansas lost in overtime to Texas in their season opener on neutral court and they defeated future IU opponent UC Davis at home.
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 / Sophomore – El Dorado, AR. Projected NBA lottery pick that returned back to Arkansas. He is one of the primary cogs in Mike Anderson’s offense and has incredible moves in the paint.
- Adrio Bailey – 6’6” / 222 lbs / Forward / Junior – Campti, LA. Front court teammate for Daniel Gafford and is one of four players averaging double digit points.
- 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 seems to have taken the role of the primary facilitator for the Razorbacks this season.
- Mason Jones – 6’5” / 207 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Desoto, TX. Junior College recruit out of Texas. Mason Jones put on an impressive showing against the first two opponents and he is currently averaging 16.0 points per game.
- 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. He was a three-star recruit and the second ranked player in Arkansas, behind teammate Ethan Henderson.
- 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.
- Desi Sills – 6’2” / 196 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Jonesboro, AR.
- Gabe Osabuohien – 6’8″ / 221 lbs / Forward / Sophomore – Toronto, Canada.
- Ethan Henderson – 6’8″ / 210 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Little Rock, AR.
- Other rotation players: Ibrahim Ali, Jonathan Holmes (W), Ty Stevens (W)
- Injuries: See below
Expectations for the Razorbacks
Arkansas finished last season 23-12 overall and 10-8 in conference play. They tied with Kentucky and Missouri for the fourth place slot in the SEC, behind Auburn, Tennessee, and Florida. Their resume enabled them to get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament as a 7 seed, but they lost to a 10 seed Butler squad.
After graduating / losing a significant portion of their production, the expectations for Mike Anderson’s squad are relatively tempered in Fayetteville. Daniel Gafford’s return gives the Razorbacks a boost in their potential ceiling, but most projections have Arkansas in the bottom half of the SEC with an NIT bid at best.
The Razorbacks are currently ranked fairly highly at 52 in the Kenpom ratings at the time of this scouting report. While the Hoosiers are favored, Arkansas will try to keep it a close game like in their season opener against Texas. The 19,000+ capacity Bud Walton Arena certainly helps.
What to Watch For
- Being without the Assembly Hall blanket. With a number of newcomers to the team between the freshmen and the graduate transfer, how will Archie’s 2018-2019 ball club perform on the road in the notoriously difficult Bud Walton Arena?
- Daniel Gafford as the center piece. Gafford posted 20 points and 12 rebounds in his double-double against Texas. Although a relatively newfound role for Gafford, a lot of the Arkansas offense is going to run through Daniel Gafford. “Fronting” the Razorback frontcourt, or denying the pass into the block, will be more critical than ever in Archie’s Miller packline scheme.
- Balancing the attack. How Arkansas can become dangerous is when the pieces around Gafford are playing at their best and can be the supporting cast. In fact, against UC Davis, Mason Jones led in points and rebounds. Mike Anderson is going to look to incorporating the team in as many ways as possible.
- Juwan Morgan and Evan Fitzner need to guide the Hoosiers. Since team co-captain Zach McRoberts is likely to be out due to back spasms. Juwan and Evan need to provide the stability for the team in case the game gets out of hand in Fayetteville. Not to mention, they may likely get the Daniel Gafford assignment. Through three games, Indiana has proven their to retain poise and remain collected, but hostile road environments can unravel that in the blink of an eye. Expect Juwan and Evan to keep the team calm and focused.
- Game planning against the press. Getting into transition offense will be even more crucial for the Hoosiers as Mike Anderson likes to press the backcourt on defense. “Defense-to-offense” was the mantra used against Marquette. When Arkansas gets the opportunity to apply the press, the staff will be tested given the limited amount of experience in addition to the… well limited number of guards available on the roster.
For Indiana, the biggest news of the week in terms of injuries was freshman forward Jerome Hunter (leg) undergoing surgery. It is projected that Indiana will also not have access to senior guard Zach McRoberts (back), junior guard Devonte Green (thigh), and redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson (concussion).
Arkansas currently is without the service of guard Jordan Phillips (knee) and guard Kahlil Garland. Both are out indefinitely.
How to Watch
|Date||Sunday, November 18th|
|Time||3:30 PM EST|