Tennessee left Knoxville with as many positive vibes as it could collect after an upset win over No. 20 Kentucky on Tuesday. In the spirit of Mardi Gras season, the Vols (11-11, 4-5) are hoping to let the good times roll. Rick Barnes' squad is looking for its second road win of the season against Arkansas on Saturday and the game will likely mirror a track meet when the Vols' quick transition offense meets a a Razorback team that likes to also push the floor and put near-constant pressure on its opponents.
"They’re going to press you some," Barnes said. "They’re going to be aggressive. They’re going to pick out points in time during the game where they’ll trap the wing after the first pass. They’ll trap the post some. There’s no doubt that they’ll double ball screens. That will happen.”
The Hogs are led by Dusty Hannahs, a junior Texas Tech transfer who averages 17 points per game and shoots nearly 50 percent from both the field and behind the arc. Hannahs acts as the generator of a trio of scorers for Mike Anderson's team that includes Anthlon Bell and and Moses Kingsley, who scores 16 points per game and gets the most minutes at 29.5 per contest.
"They've got three guys who can score a lot of points," Barnes said. "I think those three guys combine to score right around 51 points a game, so I don't think it's just one guy. I think it's three guys that get your attention. At this level, you can't give anybody anything free, but those are certainly three guys that every team is going to put a focus on."
That combination has lifted Arkansas to become the No. 29 team in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency rating behind an extremely efficient 3-point shooting percentage. The Razorbacks come into this game at an SEC-best 42.7 percent from behind the arc, a culmination of good shooting and smart shot selection.
On defense, Arkansas has been less impressive, giving up 76 points per game and a 43 percent shooting percentage from the field, but their quick style of play can get teams out of rhythm and disrupt offensive game plans.
“They’re gonna press, maybe not as much as they have in the past in some ways, but they’re still going to play their man and they’ll play a little match-up zone, which is like a switching man-to-man," Barnes said. "I’d have to think about (comparing it to others), but I think most teams — given the opportunity — are going to get up the floor."
Tennessee won't be able to feed off of an energetic crowd like it did against the Wildcats on Tuesday. The Vols will battle a usually-fierce Arkansas crowd in Fayetteville as they look to break a two-game road losing streak and score just their second win away from Thompson-Boling Arena on the season. The focus Barnes' squad needs to generate to finally begin to have success on the road will have to come from trading noise for poise.
"At home, you're oblivious to (the crowd), but on the road, you hear it," Barnes said. "I can't tell you why, but you do. That's where maybe at home, when you don't hear them, that's probably not a good thing. The fact is, you hope you've got guys that understand what has to take place there. That's where you can't get emotional."