Indiana is coming off their first big win of the year, after a 96-73 victory over No. 24 Marquette on Wednesday night. But a big test awaits on Sunday.
The Hoosiers will face their first road game of the year — and it comes at Arkansas, one of the more challenging environments in the nation.
The game will mark IU’s first ever trip to Fayetteville to face the Razorbacks. Since head coach Mike Anderson took over the Arkansas program in 2011, the Razorbacks have the sixth most home victories in the country.
Anderson is in his eighth season in Fayetteville and has a 152-87 record and led them to the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Razorbacks are young, with no upperclassmen seeing significant minutes. Nevertheless, they are a high energy, fast team that will be inspired at home against a high profile opponent.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (3-0) at Arkansas (1-1)
- Tip time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern
- Location: Bud Walton Arena (19,368)
- Television: ESPN
- Series: Tied 1-1 (Arkansas won the last meeting 86-72 in the 2008 NCAA Tournament)
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
- Juwan Morgan, forward, 6-foot-8, 232 pounds
- Justin Smith, forward, 6-foot-7, 227 pounds
- Al Durham, guard, 6-foot-4, 181 pounds
- Romeo Langford, guard, 6-foot-6, 215 pounds
- Rob Phinisee, guard, 6-foot-1, 182 pounds
- Isaiah Joe, guard, 6-foot-5, 167 pounds
- Jalen Harris, guard, 6-foot-2, 166 pounds
- Mason Jones, guard, 6-foot-5, 207 pounds
- Adrio Bailey, forward, 6-foot-6, 222 pounds
- Daniel Gafford, forward, 6-foot-11, 233 pounds
Gafford is the headliner for the Razorbacks. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team by league coaches last year, and averaged 11.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots for the season. He is averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds per game so far this year, while shooting 61% from the field.
Jones, Joe and Bailey are all averaging in double figures, with Joe and Jones shooting 54% and 46%, respectively, from long range.
TALE OF THE TAPE
The game will be just the third of the season for Arkansas. They opened the season with a neutral court overtime loss to Texas. The Razorbacks followed that up with a home win over a team that will travel to Bloomington next week — UC Davis.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Indiana’s Guards vs. Arkansas’ Pressure
Harkening back to the 1990’s and their “40 minutes of hell” approach, Arkansas likes to pick up full court and make life difficult for opposing teams. With Indiana likely missing Devonte Green again, the Hoosiers will once again be shorthanded in the backcourt.
Rob Phinisee and Al Durham will see big minutes again as they handle the ball against the pressure throughout the game. With both likely to play more than 30 minutes, will they get worn down battling the Arkansas defense on the road?
The Arkansas big man is going to be a handful for IU. The Hoosiers don’t have anyone in the regular rotation with the length to match up with Gafford, and whoever guards him runs the risk of getting into foul trouble. Indiana cannot afford to have Juwan Morgan sitting with fouls. The Hoosiers will likely throw double teams at Gafford to force him to give up the ball, and they will have to work hard to keep him off the boards.
Composure on the Road
Arkansas doesn’t get a lot of power five non-conference opponents to come to Fayetteville. The crowd is likely to be energized for this one. While good preparation for some of the tougher road venues in the Big Ten, Indiana will need to be composed in its first such test on the season.
Arkansas gets a lot of points off turnovers, and IU miscues will be a sure way to energize the home crowd and fuel the Razorbacks. While the Hoosiers will likely be above their season average of 13 turnovers a game, IU needs to keep things reasonable in that regard.
Attack Pressure with Pressure
Indiana cannot be satisfied with just getting the ball across the midcourt line. The shot clock will be running down and the pressure will continue in the halfcourt. When the Hoosiers beat the pressure, they must take advantage of that and attack the rim rather than trying to set up the offense. Justin Smith and Juwan Morgan could be very effective on the back side of IU’s press break.
Surrounded by underclassmen from both teams, Morgan and Evan Fitzner need to lead the way for Indiana as a cast of Hoosiers make their road debuts. We’d add Zach McRoberts to that list, but he is not expected to play with back issues.
Indiana Associate Head Coach Tom Ostrom was an assistant coach for the Razorbacks from 2007-2011
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier