2. Get Out On 3s
Defending the Bulldogs starts and ends with one key area: guarding the 3-point shot.
Sure, junior Jarvis Varnado has improved his offensive game. But when playing well, Mississippi State does most of its meaningful damage from 3-point range. Arkansas fans easily remember this. The Bulldogs, who always have four able 3-point shooters on the floor, nailed 11 of their 27 tries from beyond the arc in their 70-56 win over Arkansas on Jan. 10.
3. Box Out Better
The failure to snag defensive rebounds in the final minutes cost the Razorbacks in their last two losses — at LSU and against Tennessee.
Overall, the Hogs haven't been terrible on the boards, though. They have outrebounded two of their last three opponents, and they have an opportunity to do so again today in Starkville. Mississippi State has the second-best rebounder in the SEC in Varnado, but the Bulldogs rank last in the league in rebounding margin (minus-1.1).
4. Clarke Recovery
Arkansas freshman guard Rotnei Clarke seemed to have broken out of his shooting slump. He made six 3s and exploded for a career-high 26 points in the Hogs' win over Alabama on Jan. 29.
Turns out he hasn't completely gotten out of his funk, however, and Arkansas needs his 3-point shot back to have a chance against the Bulldogs. Clarke scored 12 points Saturday at LSU but went scoreless against Tennessee on Wednesday night, his third SEC game without a point.
5. Create Turnovers
The Razorbacks are undoubtedly at their best when they force mistakes with constant intensity on defense. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey uses one word to describe what he wants to see defensively: overachieving.
The Hogs have forced more than 15 turnovers in only one game since North Texas turned the ball over 18 times against Arkansas on Jan. 3.
— Ryan Malashock
Arkansas Razorbacks (13-7, 1-6)
• Coach: John Pelphrey (Second season)
• Last Time Out: Arkansas lost to Tennessee 74-72 on Feb. 4 in Fayetteville
• Key Injuries: Senior F Marcus Monk, eligibility issues, questionable
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG
G Courtney Fortson 5-11 Freshman 14.6 5.4 6.5
G Rotnei Clarke 6-0 Freshman 10.8 2.0 1.1
G Stefan Welsh 6-3 Junior12.5 3.6 2.3
G Jason Henry 6-6 Freshman 7.4 4.1 0.4
F Michael Washington 6-9 Junior 17.2 9.9 1.4*
F Michael Sanchez 6-8 Freshman 6.1 4.9 0.7
G Marcus Britt 6-3 Sophomore 3.9 1.8 1.0
F Andre Clark 6-9 Freshman 2.5 2.0 0.1
F Brandon Moore 6-9 Freshman 2.1 1.6 0.4
Mississippi State (15-7, 5-2)
• Coach: Rick Stansbury (11th season)
• Last Time Out: Mississippi State beat Kentucky 66-57 on Feb. 3 in Lexington, Ky.
• Key Injuries: None
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG APG
G Dee Bost 6-2 Freshman 9.8 3.1 4.4
G Barry Stewart 6-2 Junior 10.6 3.1 1.6
G Phil Turner 6-3 Sophomore 8.0 3.8 1.4
G Ravern Johnson 6-7 Sophomore 13.0 3.6 1.4
F Jarvis Varnado 6-9 Junior 12.4 9.6 4.8*
F Romero Osby 6-8 Freshman 5.5 3.2 0.5
C Elgin Bailey 6-8 Sophomore 4.3 2.7 1.0*
G Riley Benock 6-4 Sophomore 2.5 1.1 0.7