Fayetteville, AR – The 25th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores hope to continue their rise in the SEC Standings when they travel to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Vanderbilt has won 10 of its last 11 games and is tied with Florida for second place in the conference standings. The Commodores continued their impressive run on Saturday by defeating 20-win Middle Tennessee, 84-77.
Arkansas has enjoyed a successful season as well and is winners of 10 of its last 13. The Razorbacks are coming off a loss to Alabama though, 72-66, on Saturday, marking their fifth road defeat in five tries.
This bout represents the 26th all-time meeting between these two teams, with Arkansas holding a 16-9 lead. The Commodores had won two straight in the series before the Razorbacks won on January 29, 2011, by a final of 89-78 in Nashville.
Vanderbilt ranks just below national powerhouses Florida and Kentucky in the SEC scoring rankings, netting 74.7 ppg. The Commodores hot shooting continued against Middle Tennessee, as they drained 50 percent of their field goal attempts in the win. John Jenkins continued his solid season, making good on 10-of-18 field goal attempts for 26 points. The junior leads the SEC in scoring with 20 ppg, and he leads the nation in three-pointers made with 78. Festus Ezeli had a season-high 21 points, up from his average of just 8.5 ppg. Jeffery Taylor is a competent scorer in his own right, ranking second in the conference with 17.3 ppg and fourth in field goal percentage at .536. Lance Goulbourne falls just short of the double-digit scorers' club with 9.9 ppg and he grabs a team-leading 7.2 rpg as well. Though its offense has been able to mask its deficiencies of late, Vandy's defense can be a liability, ranking ninth in the conference and the squad gave up 57.4 percent shooting to Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
Arkansas has a similar makeup to Vanderbilt, averaging just a half point less per game on offense (74.2) but the Hogs possess an even worse defense, ranking last in the SEC (66.1 ppg). A poor defensive effort proved to be the difference in a close game with Alabama over the weekend, as the Crimson Tide shot 50 percent from the field and they also went to the foul line 25 times. Rickey Scott had one of his best games in the loss for the Razorbacks, logging 18 points, five rebounds and four assists. Scott (10.1 ppg) is one of three Hogs that average double figures in points, joining B.J. Young (14.4 ppg) and Mardracus Wade (10.8 ppg). Young and Wade have both proved to be threats from beyond the arc, making at least 1.5 three-pointers per game apiece with Wade ranking first in long-range efficiency at 47.7 percent. Arkansas is a poor rebounding team, ranking next-to-last in the SEC in rebounding margin (minus-2.5) and the team is without a player averaging five rebounds per game.