After posting its biggest win of the season last weekend, Arkansas hopes the momentum will last until Saturday when the team faces off with Troy in Little Rock, Ark. The Razorbacks topped a nationally-ranked Minnesota team 95-79, and enter Thursday’s action tied for 16th in the nation in points per game (88.1).
The team shot 57.4 percent against Minnesota and had more 3-pointers (10) than turnovers (nine) in an impressive performance against a team that many consider to be a Final Four contender. Jaylen Barford registered 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting and C.J. Jones went 5-of-7 from 3-point range to fuel the offensive assault by Arkansas, which also has defeated Oklahoma and Connecticut this season. The Razorbacks have scored at least 83 points seven times - and have won all seven of those games - while scoring only 68 and 65 points in their two losses. Troy gave Kentucky all it could handle last month but enters this one having dropped two in a row.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, No TV
ABOUT TROY (5-5): The Trojans have a pair of dynamic scorers in Wesley Person (20.3 points) and Jordon Varnado (19.0), but Varnado continues to be sidelined with a foot injury. That puts more pressure on Person, who has reached the 20-point plateau in five straight games and made multiple 3-pointers in every game this season. The 6-3 senior is shooting 46.4 percent from behind the arc, while Javan Johnson is 11-of-19 from 3-point range and is shooting 54.8 percent overall.
ABOUT ARKANSAS (7-2): Freshman forward Daniel Gafford shot 8-of-8 against Minnesota - increasing his season shooting percentage to 69.5 - and earned the praise of Gophers coach Richard Pitino. “If he works hard and he’s a good kid, he could be a first-round pick,” Pitino said of Gafford, who also had seven rebounds and six blocks - twice his previous season high. Barford, Jones and Daryl Macon all have a team-high 20 3-pointers for an Arkansas squad that shoots over 40 percent from long distance.
1. Macon is 3-of-16 from beyond the arc over his last three games.
2. Jones started the season 2-of-10 from 3-point range and since is 18-of-34 with at least three 3-pointers in every game.
3. The Razorbacks’ three starting guards combined for 18 assists and four turnovers against Minnesota.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 89, Troy 77