Published November 20, 2014
Michigan is 15-4 on the year, and coach John Beilein's team has won five of its first seven Big Ten Conference bouts. The Wolverines were most recently in action at home against bitter rival Michigan State on Tuesday, and the Maize and Blue squeaked out a 60-59 win to improve to 12-0 in Ann Arbor. Michigan has lost its last two road games, and is 1-3 in true road tests this season.
Arkansas has enjoyed similar success, sporting a 13-5 record heading into this clash, and the team, under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Anderson, is an even 2-2 in SEC play. The Razorbacks are 13-1 at home this season, and they have won 11 straight in front of the UA faithful, including a 69-60 decision over LSU last Saturday. They are however, coming off an 86-63 loss at No. 2 Kentucky on Tuesday.
Michigan leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 3-2, and this is the first meeting between the two since 1997.
Trey Burke scored 20 points, and Zack Novak and Tim Hardaway, Jr. chipped in 10 apiece to help push the Wolverines past arch nemesis Michigan State earlier this week. As a team, Michigan drained 51.1 percent of its field goal attempts, but missed 15 of its 21 three-point tries (.286). The Wolverines turned the ball over only eight times compared to 14 by the Spartans, and the home team committed a mere eight personal fouls. The one glaring negative from the game was that UM came up with a season-low 18 rebounds. Through 19 games, the Wolverines are averaging 68.8 ppg on the strength of their .463 field goal percentage and 70.4 percent showing at the free-throw line. Defensively, they are permitting just 60.6 ppg, with foes shooting 41.5 percent from the floor, and Michigan owns narrow margins in both rebounding (+1.8) and turnovers (+1.9). Hardaway, Jr. and Burke are the only two UM players currently averaging double figures in the scoring column, netting 15.4 and 14.6 ppg, respectively, although Novak (9.3 ppg) and Evan Smotrycz (9.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) are close to joining them.
Arkansas had four players score in double figures at Rupp Arena in Lexington earlier this week, but that proved to be little consolation as the Razorbacks were run out of the building in a 23-point loss to Kentucky. Mardracus Wade led the Hogs with 12 points, while the trio of Rashad Madden, B.J. Young and Marvell Waithe pitched in 10 points apiece -- all three of them doing so off the bench. As a team, Arkansas shot 40.4 percent from the floor -- the effort hampered big time by a dismal 31.0 percent effort in the first half. The Wildcats wound up putting five players in double digits, and they made good on 57.1 percent of their total shots. As mentioned, the Razorbacks have been superb at home this season, winning 13 games by an average of 16.3 ppg. Young is the team's leading scorer with 14.7 ppg, and he knocks down an impressive 51.3 percent of his field goal attempts. Wade is next with 11.1 ppg, and so far he has converted nearly half of his three-point tries (.493).