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Rested Arkansas ready for Johni Broome, No. 25 Auburn

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No. 25 Auburn aims to extend its winning streak to seven when it opens Southeastern Conference play against Arkansas on Saturday at Fayetteville, Ark.

The Tigers (11-2) have won the six games by an average of 24 points and seem well-prepared for SEC play, but a visit to Arkansas isn’t for the faint of heart.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl hasn’t forgotten his program’s most recent visit to Fayetteville. The Tigers were the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and had won 19 consecutive games before being derailed 80-76 in overtime by the Razorbacks on Feb. 8, 2022.

“Last time we were at Arkansas, they stormed the court when we were No. 1 in the country,” Pearl said. “It’ll be everything we want and then some. It’s not the easiest way to start the conference but we’re playing well right now.”

The Razorbacks (9-4) already took down ranked Duke at home this season. They have won their past three games but Saturday’s clash will be just their fourth in 28 days.

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman knows his team is rested entering SEC play.

“It’s the start of conference play. It’s one game, but it’s against a team that has won a lot of games since Coach Pearl has been there,” Musselman said. “They’re going to be ready to play. We hope that our guys are ready to play. You’re playing against a team that’s ranked. I think that anytime you play against a team that’s ranked, you should be ready to play.”

The Razorbacks are geared on slowing down Auburn star Johni Broome, who is averaging 19.3 points, 11 rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots over the past three games.

Broome scored 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting in Tuesday’s 88-68 hope victory over Penn. He was 3 of 4 from 3-point range, collected 12 rebounds and swatted aside three shots while registering his sixth double-double of the season.

“It felt good to see the first one go in,” said Broome, who achieved a career high for 3-point baskets in a game. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates and my coaches. They still believe in me to give me those shots.”

Chad Baker-Mazara added a season-best 16 points off the bench for the Tigers.

Broome leads Auburn in scoring (15.8 points per game), rebounding (8.7) and blocked shots (26). Jaylin Williams (11.5) and Aden Holloway (10.5) also average in double digits.

Arkansas last played on Dec. 30 when it established a season best for points with a 106-90 home win over UNC Wilmington.

Keyon Menifield Jr. scored a career-high 32 points to spark the Razorbacks. It was Menifield’s third game since the NCAA ruled he was eligible to play for Arkansas this season.

Menifield averaged 10 points per game as a freshman at Washington last season.

His presence will boost an offense that has been relying on Tramon Mark (17.0 ppg) and backup Khalif Battle (14.3).

Battle played just seven minutes against Wilmington due to an ankle injury and had two points on 0-for-5 shooting. That was his second two-point effort in a three-game span.

Battle has made just 8 of 28 shots over the past four games to drop his shooting percentage to 40.2.

“I think the one thing is just consistency,” Musselman said of Battle. “He’s had some games where he’s lights out and the defense has no answer for him, and then there have been some other games of 2-for-10 nights. I think all offensive players that are explosive scorers go through those nights as well.”

Arkansas has won four of the past five meetings and 14 of the last 19 against Auburn.

–Field Level Media

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