SMU gets ready to take on Arkansas Razorbacks

Billy previews SMU's 155th matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks are off to a great start on the year with three decisive wins. Can SMU slow them down?

WHEN: Tuesday, November 25. Tipoff at 6:30 p.m. CT
WHERE: Moody Coliseum, Dallas, Texas
TV/RADIO: ESPNews; KAAM 770 AM
SERIES: 155th meeting between the programs with Arkansas leading the series 95-59.
LAST MEETING: The Razorbacks beat SMU in Fayetteville 89-78 on Nov. 18, 2013.

PONY TRENDS

Keith Frazier has really come on with his career-high 17 points against Eastern Washington. Frazier’s development has been well-documented and the McDonald’s All-American will need to step up even more against the Razorbacks. With Frazier shooting over 50 percent from three-point range, SMU will rely on him to knock down some big shots early to get the momentum going for SMU.

In the paint, SMU has seen Ben Moore really step up in Markus Kennedy’s absence, but Yanick Moreira and Cannen Cunningham have been inconsistent and struggled against Indiana and Gonzaga. Moore had a breakout game last year against the Razorbacks, going 8 of 10 from the floor, led the Mustangs on a 24-7 run to close Arkansas' lead to as few as six points in the closing minutes. If SMU gets a similar game out of Moore, SMU should control the paint.

Nic Moore’s ability to break the press, cut down on turnovers and be the leader SMU fans know he is against the Razorbacks will be key to keeping SMU’s impressive home record intact.

OPPONENT STRENGTHS

If SMU wants to break their 12-game losing streak to the Razorbacks, the team will have to take care of the ball. Arkansas has forced 44 turnovers in the last two games en route to their 3-0 start. A win over SMU will be Arkansas’ first 4-0 start since 2006-07. The main story has been the defense of Arkansas, forcing 44 turnovers in their past two games while allowing only 44 field goals.

In Mike Anderson’s 400th game as a coach, the SEC’s top scoring team will come to Dallas and try to score at least 83 points for the fourth straight game. The Razorbacks have scored 83+ points in their first three games for the first time since 1993-94. Eight different players have reached double figures while a different player has led the team in scoring in each game. Alandise Harris has experience playing in Moody, playing twice while he was a Houston Cougar. The environment will be very different since Harris’ last time he faced the Mustangs.

Three Players to Watch

Bobby Portis: The 6-11, 242-pound sophomore forward is averaging 16 points, almost six rebounds and over a block a game. Portis finished last year on the SEC All-Freshman Team and will be matched up with Moreira, Moore and Cunningham most of the night. Portis is on his way to an All-SEC selection on the conference’s top scoring team. Force the Razorbacks to beat SMU with Portis held in check and that’s a good start to SMU’s night.

Alandise Harris: A big body at 6-6, 240 and the leading scorer against SMU last year for the Razorbacks, Harris has to be kept in check. Harris scored 21 points last year and the former Houston Cougar is averaging nearly 55 percent from the field this year. Sterling Brown and Ben Emelogu will likely be charged with keeping him in check. The Mustangs better shut him down or the Razorbacks will ride Harris to another win.

Anthlon Bell: The talented 6-3 guard will be who SMU has to keep an eye on from beyond the arc as the senior is hitting nearly 70 percent of his shots from three-point range. SMU has struggled to defend the three and teams are starting to just let it fly. SMU can’t allow Bell to get into a rhythm.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Moore vs. Portis: If SMU is going to control the paint, Moore will have to step up against one of the better big men he’ll face this season. Both Moore and Portis are their teams’ best big men and Moore’s athleticism against Portis’ power will be something to watch. Moore won’t be alone defending Portis, but SMU can’t allow Portis to outmuscle the Mustangs down low.

KEYS TO THE GAME

SMU lost Justin Martin to a knee injury and it will be on Ben Moore, Moreira and Cunningham to really step up down low. The key though will be turnovers as SMU has struggled at times this year in the half court. Nic Moore’s ability to break the press will be key. The Razorbacks had 20 points off 18 SMU turnovers last year. That can’t happen if SMU wants to add a quality win to its resume.


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