After beating Oregon (huzzah!) and losing to No. 4 Michigan State (w/e, it’s fine), Kevin Ollie’s UConn Huskies will face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the third-place game of the PK80’s Victory bracket.
Both teams bring a 4-1 record into the contest, as Arkansas lost to North Carolina, 87-68, in its previous game. Like UConn, the Razorbacks couldn’t really hold on against one of the country’s elite teams. This should be a much more even matchup.
Arkansas is ranked 39th in KenPom and holds wins over Oklahoma (26), Fresno State (91), Bucknell (81), and Samford (193), so the team is pretty well-tested. KenPom projects a 63% chance of a Razorbacks victory and a four-point margin. UConn overcame larger odds going into the Oregon game, and we’ve discussed how KenPom is not able to properly assess the Huskies early in the season, so their chances are probably a bit better than that.
This is another good test for Kevin Ollie’s squad, who would do well to get this win after a promising performance against Michigan State. Despite not playing their best, the Huskies competed well into the second half against a top-5 team before the game started to slip away. Jalen Adams, Terry Larrier, and Alterique Gilbert all had good games but just two other players scored points for UConn. Hopefully, the bench wakes up for this opportunity against a quality opponent.
The Razorbacks are led by a pair of senior guards in Jaylen Barford (20.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.4 APG) and Daryl Macon (16.4 PPG, 3.2 APG), though Macon is questionable for today with a leg injury. A third senior guard, Anton Beard, is the team’s fourth-leading scorer.
Up front, 6-foot-11 freshman forward Daniel Gafford is their third-leading scorer, second-leading rebounder, and has been a dunk machine with 12 already on the season. Arkansas is also a solid rebounding team. Nobody is over 6.5 per game, but four players are over five per contest. It’ll be interesting to see how the UConn bigs handle this and which guys get into the rotation.
UConn leads the all-time series against Arkansas, 3-0, with the first-ever meeting coming in March of 1997 and the most recent one on December 3rd, 2011, when Ryan Boatright scored 23 points off the bench to lead the Huskies to a comfortable win.
Feel free to share your pre-game thoughts and predictions in the comments. Also, be sure to stick with us for live updates and to discuss the game with your fellow fan!
20:00 - Game on!
7:45 - This has not been a good start, Arkansas leads 33-14 and is shooting over 70% from the field. UConn is settling for too many threes and already has five turnovers.
3:34 - UConn showing signs of life, but still down big, 42-26. The Razorbacks are 5-7 from deep and dominating both sides of the ball.
0:00 - Arkansas takes a 45-31 lead into the break. Adams leads UConn with 10 points to go along with three assists. Larrier is next with nine, but so far the shooting defense has been poor and nobody else seems ready to step up. Arkansas ends the half hitting 55% from the field.
15:41 - Not a bad start for UConn. They’re outscoring Arkansas 8-6 so far this half, but have no answer for Jaylen Barford, who has two 3-pointers and 22 points already. Razorbacks have a 51-39 lead.
11:49 - The wheels have fallen off. Arkansas is on an 11-0 run and now leads 64-41. Huskies have no answers on either end for the Razorbacks.
7:49 - Things aren’t any better. Huskies down 33 now, 78-45, and shooting 3-pointers even though they can’t make any of them. UConn’s 3-18 (16 percent) from deep tonight.
3:43 - Arkansas 93, UConn 55. Larrier re-aggravated an ankle injury he suffered early in the first half of this game with six minutes left to play. He’s probably done for the game and had 18 points on 7-14 shooting. Alterique Gilbert has not played a single minute this half.