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PREVIEW: Arkansas at Missouri

GAME INFO

Mike Anderson is expecting some "boobirds" tonight in Columbia, Mo.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Central today

WHERE: Mizzou Arena (capacity 15,061), Columbia, Mo.

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)

RADIO: Razorback Sports Network (Chuck Barrett, Rick Schaeffer), Sirius 92, XM 199

SERIES: Arkansas leads 20-18

LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 73-71 on Feb. 16 in Fayetteville

THE STORYLINE

Amidst all the hoopla about Mike Anderson’s return to Mizzou is this simple fact: Arkansas needs this win in a big way.

Lose this final road game, and the Razorbacks will certainly need a very strong run in the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament. Win it, and the Hogs – with an RPI of 80 – will still need to boost their chances in the conference tournament, and they’ll still be a long shot for the Big Dance. But after beating Kentucky by 13 Saturday, they will have helped themselves again.

That being said, Anderson’s return to Missouri – where he had a 111–57 record in five seasons before leaving for the UA in 2011 – goes hand-in-hand with the Hogs’ postseason hopes.

A loud crowd is expected at Mizzou Arena, where the Tigers have a 17-game winning streak – the fifth-longest active streak in the country.

“It’s a huge game, and for a lot of reasons,” Anderson said Monday, adding that he expected a few “boobirds.”

“I think the fans that know me and know my staff, the things that we walked into and witnessed what took place, there was no passion … no basketball anywhere. And now the passion’s back. And even as I left there, there’s passion. When you ask what kind of reaction, I don’t have any idea. But I think the people that know me and know what we did, what we tried to do …”

Arkansas is coming off a 73-60 win over Kentucky, a game in which the Razorbacks fed off the passion of of 18,000-plus fans to score 30 points off 19 turnovers. While leading scorer B.J. Young has struggled as of late, junior forward Coty Clarke has come on, scoring in double figures in three of the past five games, including a 14-point, 12-rebound effort vs. Kentucky.

Missouri has won three of four since that loss in Fayetteville in mid-February, including Saturday’s 89-76 win over LSU. Seniors Laurence Bowers, Keion Bell and Alex Oriakhi – all of whom scored in double figures vs. LSU – will be playing their final home game, and a win would give the Tigers their first unbeaten season at home since 2008-2009 when Anderson guided them to the Elite Eight.

PROBABLE STARTERS

ARKANSAS (18-11, 9-7 SEC)
G Fred Gulley III (6-2, Jr., 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
G BJ Young (6-3, Soph., 15.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.5 apg)
G Mardracus Wade (6-2, Jr., 6.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
F Marshawn Powell (6-7, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F Coty Clarke (6-7, Jr., 7.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
COACH: Mike Anderson (36-25 in second season, 236-123 overall)

MISSOURI (21-7, 10-5)
G Phil Pressey (5-11, Jr., 12.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 7.1 apg)
G Keion Bell (6-4, Sr., 11.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G Jabari Brown (6-5, So., 14.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
F Laurence Bowers (6-8, Sr., 14.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
C Alex Oriakhi (6-9, Sr., 11.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg)
COACH: Frank Haith (51-12 in second season, 180-113 overall)

GAME NOTES

Arkansas

Missouri

NOTEWORTHY

Arkansas sophomore guard Rashad Madden has had 23 assists vs. five turnovers since sitting out the South Carolina game – a 10-game span. In the 10 games before the South Carolina game, he had 12 assists and 13 turnovers. … Clarke had his first career double-double against Kentucky. He also had six assists. … Missouri is ranked No. 2 nationally in rebounds with 41.3 per game. The Tigers outrebounded Arkansas 47-31 in the previous meeting this season. …Tigers junior guard Phil Pressey is 18 assists away from the school single-season record he set last year.

QUOTEWORTHY

Anderson on Clarke’s performance: “I think the emergence of Coty is big for our basketball team because that’s somebody else people have to worry about. He’s really kind of getting into the routine of going to the glass. Offensive glass, we know he does that. Now defensive glass, and pushing it out, getting our break started. He’s getting a lot more comfortable. He’s stepping out, knocking shots down. ... People now have got to recognize that as well as Marshawn, and hopefully B.J. is on his game.”

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