The thoroughly rejuvenated Razorbacks are riding a four-game winning streak into Oxford, MS on Wednesday night after defeating Texas A&M on Saturday. Arkansas prevailed in overtime to earn a revenge victory against the Aggies after on-court leader JD Notae fouled out late in regulation.
That heart-stopping 76-73 victory has landed Arkansas at 5th in the SEC with an SEC record of 4-3 and an overall record of 14-5. They remain tied with Tennessee (13-5, 4-3) and Alabama (13-6, 4-3) in the SEC standings, though they currently hold a better overall record than both teams.
Ole Miss comes into the contest against Arkansas with a 9-9 record, including 1-5 against SEC teams. They have hit something of a skid, losing six of their last seven games, including four in a row in conference play. Their best win of the season so far came at home against Mississippi State, which currently ranks 45th in the NET Rankings. The Rebels have two losses that stand out on their schedule: a neutral site loss to Western Kentucky (138th NET) and a home loss to Samford (224th NET), though they did recently force overtime on the road against Tennessee (11th NET) before ultimately losing by six.
What to Expect When Ole Miss Has the Ball
Jarkel Joiner was Ole Miss’ leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per contest on 36% 3P shooting until he underwent a procedure on his back earlier this season that is expected to keep him sidelined well beyond the game against Arkansas. At 6-1, the senior guard would have likely been Au’Diese Toney’s primary matchup, but his absence will allow Toney to utilize his defensive prowess elsewhere – perhaps against the Rebels’ current leading scorer and playmaker, Daeshun Ruffin.
That 5-9, 160-pound freshman will likely the be the smallest alpha Arkansas will face the rest of this season. The diminutive guard started the season coming off the bench but has since started each of the last seven games. He paces Ole Miss in scoring (11.9) and assists (3.6) while also averaging 2.5 steals per game. Don’t be surprised if Razorback guards JD Notae or Devo Davis draw this defensive matchup early on instead to allow Toney to guard a taller scoring threat.
The Rebels have been a relatively poor 3-point shooting team, making under 33% of their long-range shots and ranking 230th in the country in this category. They were able to push highly-ranked Tennessee to overtime due to an uncharacteristically good 3-point shooting night, hitting at a blistering 50% clip from long range on 22 attempts. Senior guard Tye Fagan and sophomore guard Matthew Murrell did most of the damage from deep, combining to shoot 9-12 (75%) from distance against the Volunteers. Both guards shoot over 37% on the season, but this performance was a clear outlier for Fagan in terms of combined volume and efficiency.
Murrell, on the other hand, is shooting 40% on 3-point attempts this season on a notable 4.2 attempts per game. The 6-4 guard has shot 37% or better from long range nine different times this season, including high-volume shooting performances of 5-5 (100%) against Mississippi State, 3-6 (50%) against Rider, and 4-9 (44%) against Memphis. Limiting his attempts and efficiency from distance will be a key for the Razorbacks in this game. Fortunately, this is something they’ve excelled at during their four-game winning streak. Despite allowing a late 3-pointer that sent the game against Texas A&M to overtime, the Hogs have held their opponents below 31% shooting from distance in each of their last four games, allowing a combined 26% average from behind the arc.
Another name to watch in this game is the Rebels’ 7-0 center, Nysier Brooks. The two-time transfer is playing his final collegiate season at Ole Miss while averaging career highs virtually across the board. His team-leading 8.1 rebounds per game are nearly two full rebounds higher than the 6.3 mark he set during his final season at Cincinnati as a sophomore, and his 9.5 points per game are coming on an absurdly efficient 61% shooting from inside the arc on 6.4 attempts per game.
For reference, Au’Diese Toney is Arkansas’s most efficient 2-point scorer averaging more than one attempt per contest, and he is shooting a respectable 56% from inside the 3-point line.
What to Expect When Arkansas Has the Ball
The Hogs made up for their poor shooting night against South Carolina last week when they knocked down seven triples against Texas A&M on Saturday. They combined to shoot 35% from long range as a team against the Aggies for the first time since their 81-55 win over Elon four days before Christmas. It’s only the fifth time all season Arkansas has hit at least 35% of its 3-point attempts.
Arguably the biggest key to the Razorbacks’ recent success has been the full emergence of Jaylin Williams. The 6-10 sophomore is averaging 14.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.3 assists, and 1.0 blocks during the current four-game winning streak. He’s also improved his free throw shooting at an astonishing rate, turning a 54% average through his first 15 games this season into a 91% average over his last four on over twice as many attempts per game. He’s also hitting 33% of his 3-point shots during this stretch compared to shooting only 3-15 (20%) through the first 15 games of the season.
JD Notae has also seen his role shift slightly. His minutes are down by nearly six minutes per game over this four-game winning streak, but his scoring has only dipped by 0.8 PPG and his assists have actually increased from 3.3 to 3.8 during this stretch. He’s shooting 40% from the field and nearly 86% from the free-throw line over his last four games, but his 3-point percentage has unexplainably dropped.
After shooting a subpar 30.8% from long range leading up to the Hogs’ winning streak, Notae has seen his percentage dip to nearly 23% during this stretch, including a 2-13 (15%) performance over his last two games. The senior guard was a career 35% 3-point shooter before this season started, so it’s not unreasonable to expect Notae’s shooting to balance out eventually.
Arkansas vs Ole Miss: What to Watch For
Another important factor in the Hogs’ current string of wins has been their ability to get to the free-throw line – and convert once they get there. Arkansas currently ranks 3rd in the nation in free-throws attempted and 2nd in free-throws made, shooting 74% as a team on the season and 75% against SEC opponents. In their last four games, the Hogs have shot over 79% from the charity stripe on 25.5 attempts per game.
However, Ole Miss is 1st in the conference in allowing the fewest free throw attempts to SEC opponents. They have only allowed SEC teams to attempt 12.5 free throws per game across six conference games while Arkansas is averaging 24.7 attempts during their seven SEC contests.
The Razorbacks will have to do one of two things to help secure the victory against the Rebels on the road: force Ole Miss into more fouls than they typically commit or shoot more efficiently from the field to mitigate the lack of free-throw attempts. The latter might be more likely considering Ole Miss is also allowing a 61% 2-point completion percentage to SEC opponents – good for 2nd worst in the conference.
Arkansas Basketball vs Ole Miss: Prediction
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives the Razorbacks a 65% chance of beating the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford. Arkansas currently leads the all-time head-to-head record against Ole Miss 48-33. The Razorbacks have also won eight of the last ten matchups dating back to February of 2015, including the last three in a row and the Hogs are favored by 4.5 in this one, as those who become part of 1xbetpartners discover.
Arkansas continues its hot streak on the defensive side of the ball, holding a below-average Rebel offense to less than 65 points for the fourth time in Ole Miss’s last five games. Jaylin Williams leads the Hogs with another all-around effort on both sides of the ball as JD Notae finds some of his rhythm again from 3-point range. The Hogs earn their fifth consecutive victory as they pull away late against the Rebels on the road. Arkansas wins 78-62.
Arkansas vs Ole Miss: How to Watch
Arkansas Razorbacks (14-5, 4-3)
Ole Miss Rebels (9-9, 1-5)
Where: Oxford, MS
Date: Wednesday, January 26th
Time: 6:00 PM CT
TV: SEC Network / ESPN App (Mike Morgan and Jon Sunvold)
Live Stats: http://www.Arkansas.StatBroadcast.com
Radio: Learfield Razorback Sports Network (Chuck Barrett and Matt Zimmerman)
^ Listen to Razorback Sports Network Online (Tune In)
Arkansas vs Ole Miss Game Notes
- Jaylin Williams is the reigning SEC Player of the Week. He has produced four double-doubles over his last five games.
- JD Notae leads the SEC in both scoring and steals. In fact, he ranks sixth in the NCAA in thefts. In SEC games only, Notae is also the league’s top scorer.
- Arkansas continues to lead the NCAA in free throws made. That trend could be in jeopardy Wednesday and Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in fewest fouls per game.
- The Razorbacks have won the battle of the boards in the last four five straight games.
- Arkansas has forced at least 16 turnovers in all four games. (via Razorback Communications)
Author: Brandon Baker. Co-Department Head of OvertimeHeroics.net. Twitter: @Panamaniac03 and @OTHArkansas.