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.
After the Maui Invitational, which lasts from Nov. 21-23, the Razorbacks will return home to take on Troy.
vs. Troy – Nov. 28
As the lone Sun Belt team on the schedule, Troy will march into Bud Walton Arena after a 20-12 finish a season ago. Two of the bigger games on the Trojans’ schedule last season were at Butler and Florida; they fell short in both games.
A 10-6 record in conference play was near the top, but they fell short in the Sun Belt Tournament. Efe Odigie was the only Trojan who averaged in double figures scoring. He left after last season, leaving Troy in search of someone who can replace the big forward.
69.2 points per game
42.5% field goals and 32.7% 3-pointers
72.7% free throws
+3.6 rebound margin
-0.5 turnover margin
65.6 points per game
41.4% field goals and 32.9% 3-pointers
14.8 turnovers forced per game
Troy loses its two leading scorers from last season, including Odigie. Key returners who can be prominent scorers are guard Duke Miles and forward Zay Williams.
Miles was the third-best scorer during the 2021-22 season, averaging 8.4 points per game. Williams, at 6-foot-9, was Troy’s best shooter from beyond the arc, shooting 41.7% on 41 attempts from deep. Six players who were productive last season return. Five freshmen come in, including 247Sports Composite three-star and Illinois offer Randi Ovalle.
Two transfer veterans come in to ramp up guard play for Troy. That was a group that lacked depth for the most part.
Senior Darius McNeill, who started his career at California, comes over from UTSA. His numbers are on the decline since year one. Last season, he averaged 6.4 points, 2.5 rebounds per game, and nearly two assists.
Intraconference transfer senior Nelson Phillips, recently at Georgia State, is a solid shooter who averaged 7.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. His career 36.7% mark from three could be big for the Trojans.
Game Difficulty – 3.5/10
Coming back from the stay in Hawaii, Arkansas will not have time to waste. While Troy performed terribly at Florida last season, it is a solid Sun Belt squad. The Trojans bring back enough experience alongside two solid transfer guards to be competitive.
To this point in the season, the Hogs will have been tested. Troy is a team that is middle of the road in terms of height and build, which brings little worry due to what Arkansas will have dealt with in Maui.
Troy was a turnover-prone team a season ago; that only brings more confidence on Arkansas’ end. Assuming Arkansas gets up for this game following the excitement of the road trip, it should be a nice bounce-back opportunity if need be.
Featured image courtesy of Davis Photography/Troy athletics