The average Arkansas fan might look at the non-conference men’s basketball schedule in one of two ways.
One point of view is to have the five-star freshmen dangle like sugar plums and not have any worry about what lies ahead. The other, denies that any team should even step on the same court as the Razorbacks, because why play the game?
Both ways, while less stressful, are no fun. Join us as we break down each Arkansas hoops non-conference opponent and what to expect out of each game.
The early parts of the season will be important for head coach Eric Musselman to figure out his rotation and for younger players to get acclimated to the college game. In what we’ll be a multi-part series, we’ll be giving a look at every Arkansas non-conference foe for the upcoming season.
On Wednesday, we previewed Fordham. The next opponent for the Razorbacks will be South Dakota State.
vs. South Dakota State – Nov. 16
A team many had as a Cinderella in March Madness last season finished 30-5 and a perfect 18-0 in conference. The Summit League was the Jackrabbits’ to take and they did just that.
Two hiccups at Missouri State and at Idaho stand out as two of their five losses. Road woes, while not many on record, stand out.
The Jacks lose their top three scorers, including sensational Baylor Scheierman. All three players averaged more than 14 points per game as part of a prolific offense that was tough to slow down.
85.9 points per game (second nationally)
52.1% field goals and 44.5% 3-pointers
75.8% free throws
+3.6 rebound margin
+0.7 turnover margin
73.2 points per game
43.7% field goals and 35.3% 3-pointers
11.7 turnovers forced per game
South Dakota State does return a solid guard/forward combo in sophomore Zeke Mayo and senior Luke Appel. Mayo averaged 9.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season while Appel earned nine points and 3.6 rebounds per contest.
Guard Charlie Easley returns as the best three-point shooter with at least 25 attempts. Attempting 96 shots from three, he split them on 50% shooting while also achieving 7.9 points per game. Of his 188 total shot attempts, 96 of them were from beyond the arc. It’s safe to say, he’s a dangerous shooter.
A total of seven players with production return from last season’s super squad. Four freshmen come in along with one new transfer addition.
Former Wisconsin Badger and South Dakota native Matthew Mors returned to his home state. He did not record any stats for Wisconsin last season, but the 6-foot-7 redshift freshman forward was a four-star out of high school, according to ESPN.
Game Difficulty – 5/10
The battle of coaches named Eric will take place when coach Eric Henderson leads the Jacks into Fayetteville. Still a fairly young head coach, Henderson has his program in excellent position and has been the target of many coaching searches this offseason. While losing the trio that brought them to fame a year ago, the Jackrabbits still have some pieces to throw at Arkansas.
A team that suffered from high-percentage shooting teams, the Razorbacks will be facing one here. While it is another team that lacks the height to match up with the bigs, odds are the arc will need to be on lockdown.
The Jacks return four players who shot over 40% from three on a minimum of 25 attempts last season. If the Jacks’ rain can be turned into a drizzle, the Hogs should get a win before their trip to Maui where their first true test awaits.
Featured image courtesy of South Dakota State