A Road Win at Bud Walton Arena Would be Huge
Frankie Sullivan will lead Tigers into a hostile environment at Arkansas
January 25th, 2012 the Auburn Tigers are in a tight basketball game with Arkansas. The Tigers have fought and scraped for 40 minutes in front of a rowdy crowd of 19,500 Razorback fans in Bud Walton Arena.
It was a wild game from the start as Tony Barbee’s Tigers came out with a ferocious defense that held the Razorbacks to zero points for the first six minutes of the game. It was a defensive struggle on both sides with the Tigers leading at halftime 22-19.
Auburn out shot Arkansas from the field 40 percent to 35 percent and out rebounded the Razorbacks 42-29, scrapping and fighting all the way to the buzzer.
It was a great defensive effort to be sure, but in the end, Auburn needed someone to be able to make a shot. The Tigers had three chances on two different possessions to make 3-pointers that could have won the game or at least sent it into overtime. Frankie Sullivan and Chris Denson both missed open chances and Kenny Gabriel’s attempt slid off the rim at the buzzer to give the Hogs a 56-53 victory and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Coach Barbee called the loss a heart breaker. Tonight at 7 pm CST the Tigers have a chance for a redo at the famed Bud Walton Arena. It will be a tall assignment. The Walton Arena is one of the most difficult places to play in college sports.
Arkansas has only loss once this season at home (to Syracuse). And the Hogs are on a five game winning streak having won six of their last seven. Last Saturday, they thoroughly dominated Vanderbilt 56-33.
The Razorbacks lead the SEC in field goal pct. defense (.316), is second in scoring defense (51.0), second in turnover margin (+4.0) and third in steals (8.5).
However, since Auburn came with in a whiskers’ hair of defeating No.12 Illinois 81-79, the Tigers have played with a new vigor here to for unseen on a Barbee team.
For the first time in 10 years, Auburn is off to a 2-0 Southeastern Conference start, including a 74-71 road win over South Carolina and is riding a three game winning streak of their own.
But Arkansas’ full-court press will present the biggest challenge the Tigers have faced all year. Coach Barbee said, “It’s nonstop, especially at home where they’ll press 90 percent of the possessions. Because of how relentless they are, our wings and our bigs have to be able to handle the ball, too, and make good decisions.”
Last year’s SEC 3-pt. leader, Mardracus Wade has been benched by first year coach Mike Anderson. So the Razorbacks will be led by Marshawn Powell who is averaging 17 points (8-of-9 fgs), six rebounds and six steals; and BJ Young who has a 14 ppg. average.
If you tune into the SEC Network tonight, expect to see the Walton House rocking as the Hogs bring their full court press. If the Tigers can play great defense once again and win the turnover battle, they have an excellent chance to hang a second home loss on the Hogs. And for the Tigers …
A road win at Bud Walton Arena would be huge.
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