Austin Peay vs Arkansas Preview and Prediction
Austin Peay vs Arkansas Preview
The college basketball world is finally back in action on Friday after the Christmas break and this matchup poses its challenges to both squads.
Austin Peay (8-4) are coming in hot, winners of six straight after being crowned champs of the St. Pete Shootout on Saturday. The Govs rallied from a halftime deficit to take a 75-66 victory against Liberty in the championship game at Eckard College (a small school in St. Petersburg, Florida).
With that victory, the Govs are accomplishing a lot of firsts this season. Austin Peay opened December at 5-0 for the first time in recorded program history. The victory gave Austin Peay its first tournament title and its first sweep in an in-season tournament since the 2000 Alaska Shootout.
The Govs are undefeated this season when they hold their opponents to less than 70 points.
Austin Peay head coach Matt Figger:
“I think we’re starting to set the culture with our guys. Be tough and relentless every play. The one thing I think we’re pretty good at is playing offense. I had to adjust the things I wanted to do to the strengths of our team; some of what we’re doing, we do it out of necessity and it’s working. Our guys are playing at a high, high level right now, confidence-wise.”
Success in the St. Pete Shootout, specifically in that championship game was thanks to the Govs best player. sophomore guard Terry Taylor.
The 6’5 guard leads the team in scoring (17.8 points), rebounds (8.3), blocks (1.0) and field goal percentage (53%)–he took over in their game against Liberty scoring 32 points on 12-of-17 shooting, blocking a pair of shots and generally forcing Liberty to account for him at all times; he was the clear Tournament MVP.
The Arkansas Razorbacks (8-3) will have to account for him at all times.
The Hogs are familiar with six-game winning streaks as they had one earlier in the season–but since that streak was snapped the team has struggled to find consistency.
Arkansas is 2-2 since that winning streak but are coming off a 73-70 win over Texas State last Saturday.
Just like Austin Peay, the Razorbacks are led by a sophomore. Their sophomore however, is held in a higher regard.
A potential lottery pick, Daniel Gafford is leading his team in the exact same categories as Taylor: points (17.6), rebounds (9.3), blocks (2.4) and field goal percentage (66%). In the win over Texas State, Gafford recorded his fifth double-double on the year.
Arkansas ranks third in the NCAA in blocked shots (6.4) and 13th nationally in assists (18.4). The Razorbacks also lead the SEC in 3-point field goal defense (.301).
Dan’s Bet: I expect Arkansas to win the game outright, but will need to see how many points they are giving up in the spread to make a final decision. Stay tuned as the lines get released.
Score Prediction: Arkansas 78 Austin Peay 67
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