GAME NOTES: The Arkansas Razorbacks will try to keep the good times rolling at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday, as they entertain the Vanderbilt Commodores in SEC action.
Vanderbilt is coming off a home loss to Kentucky in its SEC opener, although it fought until the very end before suffering the 60-58 defeat. It was the Commodores' third loss in their last five games, which has dropped them back under .500 overall at 6-7.
After closing out its most recent homestand a perfect 5-0, Arkansas hit the road to play its first SEC game of the season on Wednesday and came away with a 69-51 loss at the hands of Texas A&M. The Razorbacks are still an impressive 9-5 on the season, with all of their victories coming on their home floor.
Arkansas has won this matchup in each of the past two seasons to improve its all-time record over Vanderbilt to 17-9.
Vanderbilt appeared to be out of it, down by 16 to UK early in the second half, but it was able to go on an unbelievable 18-0 run to take a 49-47 lead with just under seven minutes left, but it could not hold on to that advantage down the stretch as it was saddled with the heartbreaking loss. The Commodores helped themselves with eight 3-pointers, but overall they shot only 32.9 percent from the field. Contributing most of that production was Kedren Johnson, who scored 18 points and added six assists and four steals for good measure. Rod Odom added 12 points in the setback, while Shelby Moats narrowly missed a double-double as he tallied nine points and 10 rebounds. On the season, Vandy has a fantastic scoring defense, allowing opponents to net just 59.5 ppg, but keeping it down has been a lackluster scoring offense, which also only accounts for 59.5 ppg. Johnson is one of the SEC's best guards, averaging 16.7 ppg on 46.5 percent shooting while also chipping in 2.9 apg and 1.8 spg. Kyle Fuller is the only other Commodore to net double figures with 11.5 ppg, although Odom (9.8 ppg) isn't far behind.
In their latest game, the Razorbacks actually outshot Texas A&M, .423 to .362, but they still suffered an 18-point loss by getting outscored at the foul line, 22-4, and losing the rebounding battle by a commanding 51-27 margin. The off night for the Hogs saw only B.J. Young score in double figures, as he shot 6-of-12 from the field for 13 points. Arkansas is usually much better shooting the ball than it displayed on Wednesday. It connects on 46.3 percent of its field goal attempts, and its 80.6 ppg not only ranks second in the SEC but 12th in the nation. Young does most of the damage, averaging 17.3 ppg on 47.6 percent field goal shooting. He also helps out elsewhere with 4.5 rpg and a team-high 4.2 apg. Marshawn Powell has been impressive in the frontcourt with 14.1 ppg and 5.4 rpg, and while no one else logs double figures on a nightly basis, it relies on steady production from a deep rotation of reserves, as 10 players average between 2.2 and 7.7 ppg.
Vanderbilt has not shown much at the offensive end, and while its defensive attack will surely slow down Arkansas somewhat, it won't be enough to pull off the road victory.
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