Arkansas is on a roll and will look to wrap upthe December portion of its nonconference schedule with a win when it hostsCal State Bakersfield on Wednesday night. The Razorbacks have won fourstraight, winning by an average margin of 25.5 points, but hasn’t played sincea 104-69 rout of Oral Roberts on Dec. 19.
In its 9-2 start, Arkansas joins No. 3 Duke andNo. 24 Creighton as the only teams to rank in the top-10 nationally in scoring(ninth with 89.5 points per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (sixth at 1.7). Still,despite wins over Oklahoma (92-83), Connecticut (102-67) and Minnesota (95-79),the Razorbacks have yet to crack the top-25 national rankings. They are sitting11th, though, in the post-Christmas NCAA RPI. “I think we’re (amongthe 25 best teams),” senior guard Jaylen Barford said in a post-game newsconference following the win over Oral Roberts. “… I don’t see (anybody) elsewho plays like we do, this fast paced and getting in lanes and just tenaciouson defense.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, SEC Network
ABOUT BAKERSFIELD (7-7): The Roadrunners have hada week off since a 76-62 loss at Delaware on Dec. 20, and then will haveanother 10-day break between Wednesday’s contest and their Western AthleticConference opener on Jan. 6. Bakersfield is only averaging 66.9 points (312thnationally), and is paced by four players in double figures: freshman guardJarkel Joiner (11.6 points), guard Damiyne Durham (10.7), forward Shon Briggs(10.6) and guard Rickey Holden (10.6). The 6-foot-6 Briggs is averaging a team-best5.4 rebounds while Holden is paces the squad with 3.4 assists.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (9-2): Led by Barford’s 18.5points, the Razorbacks are the only SEC team to feature five double-digitscorers. The 6-foot-3 Barford is shooting 50.7 percent from the field, including45.1 percent from 3-point range, and is the only player in the nation witheight games with at least 15 points, two rebounds, two assists and fewer thanthree turnovers. Fellow senior Daryl Macon is averaging 15.3 points and ateam-best 3.8 assists while 6-foot-11 freshman forward Daniel Gafford iscontributing 12.2 points and a team-leading 5.7 rebounds.
1. Arkansas has won 20 straight nonconferencehome games and is looking to start 7-0 at Bud Walton Arena for the fifth timein seven seasons under coach Mike Anderson.
2. Bakersfield is averaging 13.5 turnovers andthat could be an issue against the Razorbacks who are forcing 16.2 per contest,including a season-most 27 in last outing against Oral Roberts.
3. Baskersfield owns a plus-1.1 rebound marginwhile Arkansas is negative-0.5.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 83, Bakersfield 66