DALLAS - After taking care of its first three games at home and jumping into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in seven years, the Arkansas basketball team now gets a chance to see how it’s 2014-2015 act plays on the road.
The No. 25 Razorbacks (3-0) will visit SMU (2-2) Tuesday night at 6:30 inside the renovated Moody Coliseum in a game that will be televised by ESPNEWS with Dave LaMont and Bob Valvano calling the game.
Arkansas will be looking for its 12th straight win in the series between the two schools and do so over a foe that it has played more times - 154 - than any other in its history.
“I’m anxious to see how they respond,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. You have got some guys that played quite a bit last year and were instrumental in some of the wins we had last year. So they have had the experience of being on the road.
“So now a new year, new team, I am looking forward to seeing how they play,” said Anderson, whose team leads the series 95-59 after a 89-78 win in Fayetteville last season.
The Razorbacks, who had not been ranked by AP since November of 2007 and looking to go 4-0 for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, won three of their last five road games last season.
“I think they are ready to go play on the road,” Anderson said. “ I think they are ready to play. If you are a player, you are ready to play anywhere. You want to play games. I am sure they would rather play than practice and we have heard guys say that. Of course I have said that as well.
“So I think to me it gives the another opportunity to add a chapter to this season,” Anderson added. “The first game on the road.”
SMU, who had been No. 22 until this week and is coached by Hall of Fame head coach Larry Brown, sold all 5,000 of its season tickets this season and a sell-out crowd of 7,000 is expected with a healthy dose of Razorback fans.
"I think it will be a good atmosphere and Coach Larry Brown has done a great job of getting the interest and getting the people excited about basketball with what took place last year," Anderson said. "So this year, the Razorbacks are coming to town and I am sure we will have a contingent as well. It should be a great atmosphere."
The Mustangs – 12-1 last season at Moody Coliseum – has won home games against Lamar and Eastern Michigan and lost road games at No. 12 Gonzaga and Indiana last week.
Arkansas, who has forced 44 turnovers and allowed just 44 field goals in its last two games, will be the fifth straight unbeaten team that SMU will have played in as many games this young season.
“They have played a good schedule and this is a good team,” Anderson said. “This will be the best team that we have played up until this point. There is no question about it.”
SMU entered the season ranked No. 22 before the two losses last week bumped them out of the Associated Press weekly poll.
That’s do in large part to the fact that 6-9, 245-pound junior center Markus Kennedy is academically ineligible for the first semester.
Kennedy and Mustangs' 5-9 point guard Nic Moore (12.8 points, 5.5 assists per game) were preseason American Athletic Conference first-team All-Conference selections while the team was picked second in the league race.
“They have got size,” Anderson said. “They have got athletic ability. Nic Moore who is a dynamite player, he is being projected as not only one of the best players in their league but one of the better point guards in the country.
“So we are going to have our hands full with him,” Anderson added. He is a guy that can score and really distribute the basketball. I think he is the head of their basketball team.”
Moore had 24 points and former McDonald’s All-American Keith Frazier (10.5) – a 6-5, 190-pound sophomore shooting guard – had a career-high 17 points Saturday in a 77-68 home win over Eastern Washington.
Those two join 6-8, 185-pound sophomore power forward Ben Moore (13.3, points, 7 .8 rebounds) and 6-11,220-pound senior center Yanick Moreira (10.5, 5.5) in leading the Mustangs at this point.
"He can score,” Anderson said of Frazier. “He can light it up. That is one thing. He is long. He is about 6-5. He can put it on the floor. He is a guy that you have got to extend the floor for. When you can extend the floor and try to guard those guys on the perimeter, than that is when Yanick (Moreira) and Ben Moore can do their work.
"They can do a lot of good stuff execution-wise - high low and then they attack the glass so that is something that we really have got to be good at in terms of limiting them to shots, one shot,” Anderson added.
Arkansas is obviously a pressure defense team, which has led to lots of fouls on the road at times.
"I think that will show itself early in terms of the pressure," Anderson said. "Our pressure is going to be there whether it is half-court or full-court. We are a team that is going to play multiple defenses. I want to keep them guessing to try and figure out what we are in.
"Whatever we are in, hopefully we will be defensive-minded and we will be efficient at it," Anderson added.
Anderson is hoping that the Razorbacks can continue to improve as they head into this first road test.
"I think just continue to build and play with some confidence," Anderson said. "There is going to be some adversity. I want to see how we reach to some adversity. When you go on the road, you first of all have to be able to shoot the ball well and you have got to take care of the basketball and you can't afford to put them on the free throw line.
"A lot of times the free throw line comes with not rebounding the basketball," Anderson said. "You create havoc, you make them take tough shots, but you have got to rebound the basketball. You have to eliminate them getting on the free throw line and you have to play good defense and shoot the ball well.”
"And hopefully it will be a game where depth becomes important," Anderson said.
Arkansas is led by 6-11 sophomore forward Bobby Portis (16.0, 5.7) – a former McDonald’s All-American himself – as well as 6-6 forward Michael Qualls (12.3), 6-3 junior shooting guard Anthlon Bell (12.3), 6-6 forward Alandise Harris (10.3) and 6-5 senior guard Rashad Madden (8.7, 5.7 assists).
Bell leads the SEC in 3-point shooting at 69.2 percent (9 of 13) and shooting 65 percent overall while the Razorbacks are shooting 52.3 percent from the field, 52.1 percent from 3-point range and 70.3 percent from the free throw line.
"The result of good shooting some time is good passing and with good passing you get it to the right guy," Anderson said. "So let's hope we can get the presence inside - Bobby and Landis and Moses and guys inside going and maybe putting their guys in foul trouble. If they pay so much attention to those guys then we have the opportunity to knock shots down.
"We need Bell to knock some shots down," Anderson added. "We need Ky (Madden) to knock some shots down. We need our perimeter guys to knock some shots down, but at the same time we want to attack the basket."
Michael Qualls scores two of his 17 points in last season's 89-78 win over SMU at Bud Walton Arena.
No. 25 Arkansas Set to Visit SMU
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