Eastern Kentucky vs. Arkansas
Tip off: 8 PM EST
Spread: ARK -12.5
M/L: ARK -1000, E KY +700
The Colonels went 15-16 last season while posting a .500 conference record. They lost in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament by 24, and were not invited to any postseason play.
As one may expect with a .500 team, they gave up about what they scored (1.04 pts per poss, 1.05 allowed per poss). Their 1-3-1 zone had its moments of effectiveness, but coach Jeff Neubauer has never been one to preach defense and the 1-3-1 doesn’t create enough turnovers to offset the opponents’ accuracy from the field (due to the lack of defensive pressure by individual defenders within the zone, not to mention poor rotations and help side defense).
If the Colonels are going to get anywhere other than being a middling team, they are going to have eto play some defense, and so far, they have improved some along those lines, while their offense has taken the plunge, ranking 240th in the nation at 65.3 points per game. Due to a couple of blowout losses to Presbyterian and LeHigh (of all the powerhouses!), it has rendered their stats much worse than their decent 7-5 record.
The Colonels have now won their last four games, including a 107-43 drubbing of Brescia — another powerhouse…Irrelevant as stats may be in such a game, five Colonels reached double figures and everyone except Robbie Stenzel (7 minutes) scored. I can’t imagine what Stenzel felt like when his team put up 107 points and he accounted for 0 of them, notwithstanding the fact he only played 7 minutes.
The trio of Jaron Jones, Eric Stutz, and Joshua Jones do most of the Colonels’ offensive damage. They employ a tight 8 man rotationn, with all five starters seeing at least 23 minutes a game (Stutz, 23.3 is the low). Jones, a 6’6″ senior from nearby Lexington, did not play his first two college seasons and saw only 10 minutes a game last year, but has increased his scoring average from 2.5 ppg to 13.3, which is the team high. He’s also shooting 55.9% from the floor and 42.1% behind the arc.
Things haven’t gone that well for a storied program like the Razorbacks’. After going only 18-13 last season while posting a losing 7-9 record in SEC play, the Razorbacks have improved slightly with a 6-3 start, but have only faced one ranked opponent (UCONN) and lost badly, by 13.
Prior to their win over Southern Louisiana, they lost to both the aforementioned Huskies and Oklahoma (by 15), so this game against the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky will give them a chance to build some momentum before they begin their tough in-conference schedule which will render them up against four nationally ranked opponents; the SEC is for real.
Marshawn Powell, a 6’7″ junior forward from Newport News, Virginia, leads the way with 19.3 points per game, but is a bit irrelevant since he only played the first two games (against USC Upstate and Oakland). B.J. Young, a freshman, has been the one to step up in his absense. The 6’3″ Young had scored in double figures in 8 straight games prior to his 6 point stinker against Southeast Louisiana a few days ago. His 28 points against UCONN were particularly impressive, especially given his high usage against such a powerhouse. He attempted 20 shots and nailed half of them, while also dialing up 5 of 6 behind the arc. He also showed up to play against Oklahoma, putting up 24 pts on 9 of 16 shooting, though the Razorbacks lost by 15.
So far, the Razorbacks do not rank in the top 50 in any major statistical categories, though their 76.6 points per game is hardly all that bad. If they can find a way to get their scorers (particuarly freshman phenom Young), they should be able to cover the spread against a Colonels team that just doesn’t play very good defense at all. Accordingly, the ‘over’ on the total is attractive in this one.
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