Fayetteville, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - The 23rd-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks are set for their SEC home opener on Saturday evening when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bud Walton Arena.
Vanderbilt kicked off its conference slate by cruising to a 64-52 home win over Auburn on Tuesday night. The victory was the fourth in a row and sixth over the last seven games for the Commodores. They will now hit the road for three of their next four games.
Meanwhile, Arkansas has reeled off six straight wins to move into the national rankings. The Razorbacks won their SEC road opener for the first time since 2008 with Tuesday's 79-75 triumph at Georgia. They currently own a 15-game home win streak at Bud Walton Arena, where they are 60-6 all-time.
In terms of the all-time series between these two teams, Arkansas holds a 19-11 advantage, and that includes a 10-2 mark against the Commodores in Fayetteville.
Vandy held a huge 47-27 rebounding advantage over Auburn, and the Commodores defense limited the Tigers to 30.5-percent shooting from the floor. Senior James Siakam (10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg) had a team-high 14 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of action for his fourth career double-double. Siakam was one of four Commodores in double figures.
On the season, Vanderbilt leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (.500) and is second in 3-point shooting percentage (.389). Sophomore big man Damian Jones, a preseason All-SEC first-team pick, leads the way with 16.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per tilt and ranks second in the league in field-goal percentage (.551). The Commodores have gotten widespread contributions from their youthful roster. Riley LaChance is the SEC's top freshman scorer at 13.1 ppg, and he ranks among the overall league leaders in threes made per game (2.1) and 3-point shooting percentage (.426). Shelton Mitchell (5.6 ppg, 4.9 apg) and Wade Baldwin IV (7.4 ppg, 4.2 apg) are first and third, respectively, among the league's freshmen in assists.
This matchup certainly has the potential to turn into a high-scoring shootout, considering Arkansas is the only team in the SEC to score at least 65 points in every game. The Razorbacks rank No. 8 in the nation in scoring (84.1 ppg) and are tied for third in assists (18.4 apg). Bobby Portis (17.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Michael Qualls (15.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) lead the way.
The Razorbacks found themselves trailing Georgia on the road by as many as 13 late in the first half of Tuesday's game. However, Arkansas turned things around in the second half by shooting 57.7 percent from the floor while holding the Bulldogs to 34.5 percent over the final 20 minutes. The Razorbacks were out-rebounded by a 40-25 margin for the game, but they forced 17 turnovers and committed only nine. Portis led all scorers with 21 points, Qualls tallied 17 points and seven boards, and Alandise Harris chipped in with 15 points off the bench.