Anderson Believes Hogs Built For Postseason

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson believes No. 21 and second-seeded Razorbacks (24-7, 13-5) are built for the postseason and the second-seeded Hogs will begin play Friday night in the SEC Tournament in Nashville against the winner of Thursdays Vanderbilt-Tennessee game.

After the best regular season since 1995, Arkansas’ basketball team will head to Nashville hoping to do something it hasn’t done in the last six SEC Tournaments.

That’s for the second-seeded Razorbacks (24-7, 13-5) to win their first game at the league’s post-season event with this year’s shot coming Friday night at 6 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s Tennessee-Vanderbilt 6 p.m. game.

“It's something that probably hasn't been done here in awhile so obviously you want to be in the highest seed you can be,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “Our guys have done a good job in conference play to put themselves in the second position.

“You talk about Kentucky, they are one of the best teams in the country and they happen to be the No. 1 seed in the tournament,” Anderson added. “So we come right behind them and there are 12 teams that fall below us so at the same time all teams are going to be zero-zero and the brackets are set and we will play as they go.”

Arkansas earned a coveted double-bye in the tournament by virtue of finishing second in the SEC race.

“As we finish up the conference portion of the season, we saw some improvement in our basketball team,” Anderson said. “Obviously we had a tough loss to LSU in the last home game, but when you look at the overall picture, we did what we set out to do and that was to put ourselves in the best positioning for the seed for the next season."

The event will get underway with games Wednesday when 12th seed Mississippi State and 13th seed Auburn play at 6 p.m. followed by 11th-seed South Carolina and 14th-seed Missouri meeting at 8:30 p.m.

“Everyone is 0-0 in the SEC Conference Tournament so we are looking forward to having an opportunity to survive and advance,” Anderson said.

“We won’t play until Friday - the winner of the Vandy-Tennessee game and I think the tournament will be a great, great tournament this year with so much parity in our league,” Anderson said. “We know that Kentucky is undefeated, but everyone is 0-0 right now going into tournament play and that makes for a great atmosphere in Nashville.”

Arkansas downed Vanderbilt 82-70 at Bud Walton Arena this season and split a home-and-home series with Tennessee.

“The first game is always the biggest game and you want to go out and play well,” Anderson added. “Survive and advance. I think our team is trending toward being a very good team.”

Tennessee is the 10th seed after finishing the regular season 15-15 overall while winning at LSU and loosing at home to South Carolina last week.

“They are a team that kind of hangs around. They play a match-up zone and do a good job with that.

“They have some athletic guys that have played well,” Anderson added. “They were really hot early on and I guess as the season goes on teams get a chance to play a little bit better against you.”

Vanderbilt (19-12) is one of the league’s hottest teams having gone 9-9 in league play after a 1-7 start.

The Commodores have won five games in a row after winning at Ole Miss 86-77 on Saturday night to claim the seventh seed.

“Vandy is a team that is really starting to play well,” Anderson added. “They have got a lot of guys that have grown up - a young team that has really grown up.

“You’ve got (6-11 Damian) Jones there in the middle, (James) Siakam the lone senior, but those young freshmen have really grown up and they can really shoot the basketball,” Anderson continued. “Anytime you have a team that can really shoot the basketball, they are going to have a chance.

“And they get a chance to play there in Nashville so that is going to be an interesting match-up,” Anderson said. “You talk about how do we match up with them - everybody is good in this tournament and who shows up that day is going to be big.”

Anderson believes it will take a hot-shooting squad for anybody to bring down Kentucky (31-0).

“I think the teams that had the chance to beat Kentucky they shot the ball well and they defended well,” Anderson said. “They are so long and athletic I think you have got to make shots to make them come out and guard you and maybe get the floor opened up. But they are deeper than any team that's out there. That's their strength, they are deeper.”

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