Busting Brackets

Missouri at Arkansas: 2023-24 college basketball game preview, TV schedule

Missouri remains without an SEC win but will try to get one against one of the most disappointing teams in the country, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Tennessee v Missouri
Tennessee v Missouri / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

Missouri remains without an SEC win but will try to get one against one of the most disappointing teams in the country, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

TV Schedule: Saturday, February 24, 12:00 pm ET (ESPN2)
Location: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Saturday features a matchup of two teams in the bottom three of the SEC standings. Missouri and Arkansas were both NCAA tournament teams a year ago, but now they are just trying to get through a disappointing season.

The Tigers, losers of 13 straight, are still searching for a first conference win. On Tuesday, Missouri led No. 5 Tennessee by three at the half, but allowed the Volunteers to get hot from three after the break, eventually dropping the game 72-67. Sean East II led all scorers with 24 points, and Noah Carter added 20 points in the loss.

East (16.4 ppg) recorded his ninth game with at least 20 points and has scored in double figures in 19 of the 24 games he has played this season. Tamar Bates (13.7 ppg) struggled to find the bottom of the net against Tennessee, breaking his streak of 15 straight games with ten or points. Noah Carter (11.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Nick Honor (10.7 ppg) round out Mizzou’s double-digit scorers.

The Tigers are giving up more than 74 points per game this season, holding opponents below that number only five times in conference play. Missouri has struggled on the boards all season. Mizzou is averaging 31.5 rebounds per game, a number that is only better than 16 teams in all of Division I. Missouri has used 7.8 steals and 5.0 blocks per game to keep most games close, but poor interior defense and fouls allow games to get out of reach.

Arkansas has fared a little better than Missouri this season, picking up its fourth conference win on Tuesday. The Razorbacks downed Texas A&M on the road 78-71. Tramon Mark scored 26 points in the victory. Makhi Mitchell added 22 points and 13 points off the bench.

Arkansas has a solid offense, averaging over 75 points per game. Tramon Mark (17.2 ppg) accounts for most of the Razorback's scoring. Mark has scored ten or more points in 20 of 24 games this season. Khalif Battle (10.6 ppg) is the only other Arkansas player averaging double-digit points.

The Razorbacks have struggled on the defensive end, giving up nearly 78 points per game. Arkansas is allowing opponents to make nearly 35 percent from three and has allowed ten or more made threes five times this season. The one area where Arkansas has excelled on the defensive end is blocks. The Razorbacks are the No. 2 team in the country averaging 6.4 blocks per game.

Arkansas’ biggest advantage over Missouri is at the free throw line. The Razorbacks are one of the best teams in the country at getting to the foul line, attempting more than 25 per game. The Tigers can't afford to give up that many scoring opportunities with the clock stopped.

The Razorbacks don’t take many threes, just over 18 per game, and they don’t make many either. On the season Arkansas is making 5.9 threes per game at a 31.7 percent clip. Mizzou hasn’t had much luck keeping teams out of the paint, but if the Tigers can force Arkansas into taking a large number of shots from behind the three-point arc, then I like Missouri’s chances of picking its first conference win.

I have a feeling we are in for a high-scoring game, with both Missouri and Arkansas struggling on the defensive end. I don’t feel confident picking either team to win, but am leaning towards Arkansas on its home court simply because the Razorbacks have proven they can win in conference. I’m hesitant to pick Missouri to win any game until the Tigers’ defense shows up in a meaningful way.

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This is a winnable game for Mizzou, and Head Coach Dennis Gates should have his players motivated to avenge the loss they suffered at home earlier this season.