The Arkansas Razorbacks will face off against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena. It’s each team’s second appearance of the season. Arkansas is coming off a 74-61 win over Mercer while Gardner-Webb will look to bounce back after suffering a 64-58 loss to UNLV.
Neither of those scores, however, provide accurate insight into what happened on the hardwood. The heavily favored Razorbacks trailed Mercer 36-28 at the end of an ugly first half before coming back to win in the second half. The Runnin’ Bulldogs were neck-and-neck with UNLV for most of the game, and were only down 2 points with four minutes remaining. Both teams will certainly look to improve on their opening night performance and continue to seek answers to the many questions facing each squad.
When Gardner-Webb Has the Ball
The Runnin’ Bulldogs lost their star scorer from last season, but this void seems to have been quickly filled by sophomore guard D’Maurian Williams. Williams led the team with 21 points in their season opener while knocking down three shots from deep. His playmaking is complemented in the backcourt by junior guard Lance Terry. Terry also had a solid season debut scoring 13 points while adding 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
As a team, the Bulldogs struggled to score from the perimeter making only 3 of 20 attempts. This is good news for the Razorbacks as they look to bounce back from giving up 39 points from beyond the arc on 41% three point shooting against Mercer. The 13 three pointers given up by the Hogs in their seasons opener was the most the program had given up since early in conference play last season where they gave up 15 threes in a 90-59 loss to Alabama. The Hogs will need to keep an eye on both Williams and Terry if they want to remedy a poor performance protecting the perimeter.
Defensively, for Arkansas, look for guards Devo Davis and J.D. Notae to continue to jump into passing lanes. The pair combined for 10 steals in the season opener and certainly are not shy to take a risk on defense diving after the basketball. Down low, the Bulldogs will try to feed senior forward Zion Williams. Zion, a transfer from UMKC, played well in his debut scoring 8 points with 11 rebounds.
The Arkansas basketball team will rely on rebounding by committee to negate any second chance opportunities for the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
When the Razorbacks Have the Ball
The Razorbacks did not put their best foot forward to start the season offensively. Scoring 28 points in the first half against a below average Mercer defense is one thing, but to only score 9 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half is a bad look.
Thankfully, they were able to get things going through the efforts of J.D. Notae, Au’Diese Toney, and Chris Lykes. That trio combined for over 86% of all points scored for Arkansas in the season opener. Expect the Hogs to bring a more balanced attack against Gardner-Webb as Devo Davis, Jaylin Williams, and Stanley Umude work to make a larger impact scoring against Gardner-Webb.
The Razorbacks currently wield the 24th-best offensive attack according to Kenpom. As a team they will look to improve in 3-point efficiency and controlling the basketball. Expect J.D. Notae to continue to be a volume shooter coming off a performance where he shot the ball 26 times. To his credit, the senior guard managed to score 30 points in their last matchup.
Devo Davis Struggles
Then there’s sophomore guard Devo Davis, who was the second-leaning scorer returning from last year. Don’t expect him to repeat his opening night performance where he totaled 36 minutes played without attempting a field goal. Despite the lack of offense, Davis received high praise from Musselman in the post game press conference, “Defensively, I don’t think anyone could have played better than Devo tonight”. Moving forward, look for the lanky guard to be more aggressive on offense.
“We want Devo to look to score the ball,” Musselman added. “I thought that last year, he was in a lot of situations where there were broken plays or the play had broken down, and Devo just created and rose up over people and made a lot of mid-range shots and took the ball coast-to-coast and made some spectacular finishes.”
“So we certainly want that to be the case again and we want him to grow off what he was last year offensively.”
Arkansas Basketball: Things To Watch For
Similar to the previous matchup, the Hogs will be heavy favorites entering the game on Saturday. Musselman will try to create a sizable gap early in an effort to experiment with lineup changes and personnel combinations. Arkansas will hope to shoot better from deep against a team that ranks poorly in perimeter defense.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs will almost certainly try to run their offense through their strong backcourt. D’Maurian Williams and Lance Terry will shoot the ball at volume and look to score from the perimeter. If the Razorbacks can contain the duo of talented scorers, they will likely control this game from start to finish.
Arkansas vs Gardner-Webb Prediction
Both the eye test and analytics favor the Hogs in Saturday’s matchup. Kenpom projects a 21-point victory while Haslametrics predicts a 19-point deficit for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Overall, Arkansas will overwhelm Gardner-Webb with talent and athleticism. Barring an uncharacteristic shooting performance from the Runnin’ Bulldogs, the Hogs should win this one comfortably in Bud Walton Arena before fans head home to watch the Battle for the Boot.
Prediction: Arkansas 78, Gardner-Webb 60
How to Watch Arkansas vs Gardner-Webb
Where: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Date: Saturday, November 13th
Time: 2:00 pm
Stream link: es.pn/3c4WK1Q
TV: SEC Network +
Jonah Rapert is the founder of D1CollegeHoops.com and host of The College Basketball Podcast.
Arkansas vs Gardner Webb Game Notes
- Arkansas and Gardner-Webb have only met on one previous occasion. The Razorbacks won the only meeting, 79-63 on Nov. 27, 2004, in Fayetteville.
- Gardner-Webb is coming off a close 64-58 loss at UNLV on Wednesday.
- Of note in that game, UNLV was just 2-of-25 from 3-point range but did extend its NCAA-best streak of making a 3-pointer. The Runnin’ Rebels have made a 3-pointer in every game since the NCAA added the arc and UNLV’s streak stands at 1,130 games.
- Arkansas has the 3-longest streak of consecutive games making a 3-pointer at 1,076. The last time Arkansas did not make a triple was Jan. 7, 1989, versus Texas, going 0-of-2 from long range.
- Of all the games on opening night in college basketball (Tuesday and Wednesday), only nine players scored at least 30 points, including Arkansas’ JD Notae. Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo) led all NCAA scorers with 32 in a loss to Michigan.
- Of all the games on opening night in college basketball (Tuesday and Wednesday), only two players had seven steals, including Arkansas’ JD Notae. Jacob Gilyard (Richmond) also had seven steals. (via Razorback Communications)
Watch the Razorback highlights from their season opener here: