Bama Hoops Hype

PREVIEW: Alabama Looks to Bounce Back at Home Against Arkansas

Alabama Men's Basketball

After back-to-back road losses, the Alabama men’s basketball team returns to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum as it begins the final stretch of the regular season. The Crimson Tide host Arkansas in a battle between two of the six teams tied for third place in the SEC.

Alabama has allowed an average of 85.5 points over its last two games. Avery Johnson’s squad still ranks as the SEC’s top scoring defense during conference play but the Tide will need to get back into form if they want a chance against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas is coming off a home loss to Kentucky but has won four of its last five games. Against conference opponents, the Razorbacks are averaging 77.5 points per game and have scored at least 90 points in three different games. Mike Anderson’s teams have always been known for their ability to play fast and put some points on the scoreboard so this team is no different.

The Razorbacks have won three consecutive games against Alabama and lead the all-time series 32-28. Arkansas won the last meeting in Coleman Coliseum by a score of 62-61.

Saturday will be the fifth time this season that the Crimson Tide will play in front of a sold out crowd in Tuscaloosa. With two home games remaining, this season has already set a new program record for overall attendance in a season.

How To Keep Up

Where: Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

When: 5 p.m. CT

Watch: SEC Network with Mike Morgan and Dave Bradshaw

Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink

Projected Starting Lineups

Alabama (17-11, 8-7): Collin Sexton (18.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.4 apg), Dazon Ingram (9.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.7 apg), John Petty (10.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.0 apg), Daniel Giddens (4.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 bpg), Donta Hall (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.4 bpg)

Arkansas (19-9, 8-7): Daryl Macon (17.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg), Jaylen Barford (18.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 rpg), Anton Beard (9.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Dustin Thomas (5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Daniel Gafford (11.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.0 bpg)

Key Matchup

Freshmen vs. Seniors. If you’re going to be watching this one at home, there’s a good chance you will be hearing this narrative throughout the game. Alabama has three freshmen that have played more than 20 minutes per game this season. As a whole, freshmen account for 54.6 percent of the team’s points and 53.3 percent of the team’s assists. Today the emphasis will be put on the backcourt of Collin Sexton and John Petty. The freshman guards have combined for 30.7 points per game at home this season. For the Razorbacks, it’s the experience that stands out. They start four seniors, including guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon. Those two have combined for 35.9 points per game and they are both shooting over 43 percent from beyond the arc. Expect the guards on both teams to be difference makers in this game.

Key Stat

Plus-11.6 ppg. This is Alabama’s average margin of victory in home SEC games this season. That’s a 15.5 point swing from the average margin in away game. In Coleman Coliseum, the Crimson Tide are shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, which is 5.2 percent better than road games, and 36.3 percent from beyond the arc, which is 10.4 percent better than road games. In fact, Alabama improves in almost every statistical category when playing conference foes at home, including rebounding margin and opponent’s shooting percentage. Of course, you can’t talk about the home stats without mentioning a certain freshman sharp shooter. Petty is averaging 14.1 points per game in home SEC games while shooting 51.1 percent from beyond the arc. Yes, it would be nice to see that production away from Tuscaloosa but if he keeps that up, Alabama should be in good shape over the next two games.

Prediction

Arkansas has wins over Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri this season but it also has losses to Houston (by 26!) and LSU (twice). This is a team that has the similar pain of an inconsistent season. This is a game that both teams will likely need if they want a chance at earning a top four seed in the SEC Tournament. Expect to see entertaining basketball with a great finish but you probably should not bet against John Petty at home. Alabama 79, Arkansas 76

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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