Arkansas and No. 17 Baylor will battle for a coveted non-conference victory Saturday afternoon when they meet in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge in Waco, Texas.
The Razorbacks need a resume-building result and desperately need to prove they can win on the road, as they are 0-4 in true road games.
“We’re gaining a little bit of rhythm. We’re a more confident team,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “I think there was a lot of unknown in those first few road games.”
Arkansas (14-6) bounced back from a four-game losing streak in a rough Southeastern Conference stretch to defeat Mississippi and LSU in a pair of home games.
Baylor (15-5) has won five in a row, including Monday night’s 75-69 home triumph over No. 9 Kansas. That has helped the Bears recover from losing their first three Big 12 games.
Having a consistent lineup is giving Baylor a boost.
“I thank God every night when we don’t have injuries because we’ve had a nice string where we haven’t had anyone out,” coach Scott Drew said. “It’s a blessing when you can practice, get better and have some consistency.”
The expanded list of contributors includes redshirt freshman Langston Love getting more up to speed. He’s coming off an ACL injury that caused him to miss the 2021-22 season. He posted 11 points in 18 minutes off the bench against the Jayhawks.
“I know he has worked really hard and I knew this semester he would have some good basketball in him,” Drew said. “He’ll just get better from here.”
The Bears have bulked up their rebounding numbers after some unimpressive stretches on the boards. They’ve been outrebounded only once in Big 12 games.
“Players buying in and really competing, working hard to get better,” Drew said. “(Associate head coach) John (Jakus) has practiced a little bit, too, and his physicality makes everybody compete a little bit harder. If you’re not blocking out, he’ll knock you over.”
Keyonte George (16.9 points per game) and Adam Flagler (16.1) lead the Bears in scoring.
Arkansas meanwhile has profited from points off turnovers. That tends to show up more often in home games.
“We certainly want to take that on the road,” Musselman said. “We need to now do that and create some turnovers in a true road game.”
Musselman said the Razorbacks have cleaned up their shot selection. Players have also put in more shooting outside of practice time.
“It has helped us at the 3-point line,” he said.
Arkansas counts on junior guard Davonte Davis for production in a variety of ways. Musselman said Davis is a stalwart on defense and can help push the pace offensively.
“It’s really cool to see growth in his game, both as a leader and offensively and defensively,” Musselman said. “I think the players have really been waiting for some internal leadership. We need (Davis) to continue to evolve into that role for us.”
Ricky Council IV leads the Razorbacks with 16.8 points per game.
–Field Level Media