When Arkansas plays at home, the Razorbacks are almost unbeatable. Sixteen of their 17 wins this season have been at home where the Razorbacks have lost only to Syracuse.
Now Kentucky will put its three-game Southeastern Conference win streak on the line Saturday when it plays in Fayetteville, Ark. The Wildcats are tied for second in the SEC with at Alabama at 11-4 and trail Florida (12-3) by one game with three games left.
One of Florida’s losses — and its first in SEC play — came at Arkansas.
“Bud Walton Arena is great place. Great enthusiasm and passion from the fans. Like most teams, they are more comfortable at home than on the road. But they are a very, very good basketball team,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “They have a lot of weapons and two explosive scorers in (B.J.) Young and (Marshawn) Powell.”
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson says the Razorbacks (17-11, 8-7 SEC) need to have “everything go right” to be a good team.
“We have to have all the pieces working,” Anderson said.
Alabama coach Anthony Grant says Arkansas’s speed is a concern for any opponent.
“Against Arkansas, you have got to take care of the ball and do a great job in transition,” Grant said. “I have been impressed with their speed. At home, they are going to get after it defensively and force 18 or 19 turnovers. They let defense create offense. They play at a very fast pace.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox says Fayetteville is one of the “toughest places” in the SEC to play.
“They have a number of guys who can score. Powell is really playing well and I think their defense is terrific. To win, you have to compete, take care of the ball and guard so many guys who can score it. On defense, they have guys who can guard multiple position and so many interchangeable parts. They have great team quickness and can cover so much. They can create havoc with their speed and quickness.”
The Razorbacks, who lost 65-60 at LSU on Wednesday, have nine players averaging 15 or more minutes per game and score 74 points per game even though only Young (15.3) and Powell (14.9) average in double figures. Powell leads the team in rebounding with 5.3 per game.
Arkansas has 254 steals and has eight players with 17 or more steals led by 56 by Mardacus Wade. Young has a team-high 99 assists and 20 steals.
“Powell is really good. He is a hard matchup and has a great demeanor about him,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “He makes a basket and does not run around punching his chest. He does a great job understanding how to play in Mike’s system.”
“He is coming back off knee surgery and you do not see the explosive Marshawn Powell of the year before, but he is so skilled he still finds ways to rebound and score,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “He can play inside or outside. He is a nightmare for any team.”
However, Barbee says a team can’t concentrate on stopping Powell.
“They have a physical frontcourt. They do a good job attacking the offensive glass,” Barbee said. “You better pay attention to more than Marshawn.”
Arkansas has taken 551 3-point shots and is hitting 30.7 percent from long range. However, Donovan says numbers can be misleading for a team that has five players with 21 or more treys.
“They are a very capable 3-point shooting team,” Donovan said. “Maybe the numbers look like they have not shot the ball great from behind the (3-point) line, but I still think they are a very capable 3-point shooting team. Arkansas does a great job with the motion offense and having Powell back has added a different element to their offense.”
LSU¿coach Johnny Jones says the Razorbacks have a “lot of ability” to give any team problems.
“They have a lot of guys to run at you. Defensively, they scramble and make it tough,” Jones said. “Offensively, they are going to get out and up the floor quickly and if it is not there they run the offense and have guys capable of knocking down shots. They have guys shooting better than they have in the past. You better get out and guard them."