South Carolina vs. Arkansas
Date: Saturday, February 4th
Time: 3:30 PM
Where: Colonial Life Arena - Columbia, SC
South Carolina will take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in their second home matchup of the season. The Gamecocks are looking to end their six game losing streak against the Razorbacks, who are ranked 20th in KenPom’s latest advanced metric rankings.
The answer to the subtitle of this article is more than likely no. The Razorbacks of Arkansas have a far better resume than the Gamecocks, posting a 15-7 record. However, Arkansas has had a tough time competing against SEC opponents, and have slowed down from their strong start to the season. The Razorbacks are only 4-6 in conference play.
Arkansas has a star-studded squad, with three former five star recruits leading the squad, that being Jordan Walsh, Nick Smith Jr, and Anthony Black. However, Nick Smith Jr. has battled injuries all season, only appearing in five games so far on the season. The projected top-5 pick in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft will not be active today against the Gamecocks. Anthony Black leads the team in assists per game as well as steals per game, being a key contributor to the Razorbacks.
To go along with that, electric junior guard Ricky Council IV has been putting on a show for the Razorbacks. Council leads the team in points per game with 17.3 on 45% shooting. The Wichita State transfer is also an impressive defender, swiping 1.5 steals a game. The combination of Council and Anthony Black will be a tough defensive backcourt matchup for the Gamecocks tonight.
A lot has to go right for South Carolina to pick up a victory against the Razorbacks. However, not as much has to go right for the Gamecocks to at least stay in this game. For example, GG Jackson absolutely cannot play a full game of college basketball without grabbing a single rebound. Yes, you read that correctly, as Jackson went the entirety of the Mississippi State game without grabbing a single board, but posting five turnovers. Meechie Johnson Jr is also in a serious slump currently, shooting only 22% from the field across his last five games. Johnson just needs to shoot semi-decent for the Gamecocks to at least keep a respectable score, but he has shown the inability to do so recently.
Chico Carter Jr.’s status for tonight is still up in the air, as he is nursing tendinitis in an undisclosed location. Carter had to leave the Mississippi State because of the injury, so his timetable to return is still yet to be disclosed as well. This will be a pretty big loss for the Gamecocks, as Carter is averaging 10.5 points per game on 50% shooting from the field.
KenPom is giving the Gamecocks a 10% chance to beat Arkansas with a score prediction of South Carolina 61, Arkansas 75
My Prediction: South Carolina 55, Arkansas 76