Arkansas will play host to Clemson at 1 Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena in what should be one of the best games of the season.
Rashad Madden has stepped up big for the Razorbacks in the past few games.
Arkansas (5-2) and Clemson (7-1) are two teams hoping to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and a win on Saturday could help propel the winner some momentum the next couple of months. Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson expects a tough game on Saturday.
“The Clemson guards are really good,” Anderson said. “That's where their experience is in their guards. They have some freshmen and sophomores in the forward position. They're a team that's deep and they feel like this is one of their better teams.”
The Razorbacks are coming off an impressive 111-65 victory over Southeastern Louisiana. It's a game that saw the Hogs shoot well, play good defense and rebound well. Clemson will be a step up in level of competition though with Arkansas' 18-game winning streak on the line.
Clemson is coached by Brad Brownell. Anderson is in his third year at Arkansas so both coaches are hoping to take their teams to another level this season.
“Their coaches are in their fourth year there and feel they've got their type players in there,” Anderson said. “It will be a good challenge for our basketball team to see if we can put together two more good halves. Last game was probably one of our better games from start to finish.”
The two teams have only met once in history. The Razorbacks downed Clemson 62-60 in on Dec. 29, 1961, in the Poinsetta Classic. Clemson has usually played well on the road against SEC foes. Clemson has four wins over South Carolina and one over both Alabama and Mississippi State away from home in the last decade. Anderson did beat Clemson in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament when he was coaching at Missouri.
Anderson has praised his team all preseason and now seven games deep into the season. He did the same on Thursday afternoon.
“Our guys are trying to do what we want them to do,” Anderson said. “This will give us another opportunity to go out and play against a very good basketball team.”
Former 5-star Bobby Portis is emerging as a key inside presence for the Hogs.
This will be Clemson's first true road game. It could be a game where something has to give. Clemson is No. 1 in scoring defense (51.0 ppg) while the Hogs are No. 14 in scoring offense (88.6).
“They like the possession game,” Anderson said. “They want the game to be at a slower tempo than we do. So tempo is going to be very, very important. Obviously they have good guards and you can control the tempo with good guards.
“They play some zone and some man. Their defense is pretty good. They really do a good job of packing it in there and make you hit some tough shots.”
Clemson has K.J. McDaniels who played at Birmingham (Ala.) Central Park Christian School with Arkansas' Jacorey Williams. He is also close friends with Arkansas' Coty Clarke, who is also a Birmingham native.
“He's a good athlete,” Anderson said. “He has done a good job in terms of really developing. He has always had the athletic ability. Now, he's scoring and one of the better shot blockers on the team, probably in the country. A guy who kind of reminds you of (Michael) Qualls.”
Qualls leads the Razorbacks in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Alandise Harris is next at 14.1 ppg and true freshman Bobby Portis averages 11.3 points each outing. Portis started the season a little slowly, but has come on strong in recent outings. In his last three games, Portis is averaging 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Another strong area for the Razorbacks is the bench. Arkansas' reserves are averaging 43.9 points per game which is 49 percent of the team's scoring. Rashad Madden has also emerged lately at the point guard. He has reached double figures scoring in three of the last four games.
The game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast and ESPN3. Matt Stewart will do the play-by-play with Daymeon Fishback serving as analyst.
Arkansas also announced on Friday as a courtesy to students on campus and in the area affected by the winter weather conditions, the UA is offering free admission to Saturday's game. The students just have to show their UA student ID to be admitted at the east entrance of Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas will also have a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday morning at 11 for the new Basketball Performance Center. Chancellor Dave Gearhart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long, head women's coach Tom Collen and Anderson will all be present.