Behind Enemy Lines: Auburn-Arkansas preview with Razorbacks Wire’s Connor Goodson

The No. 20 Auburn Tigers dropped their first SEC contest of the season on Wednesday, falling to Georgia, 76-64 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.

Next on the schedule is a home date with the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT at Neville Arena. Following a loss on Wednesday to a rival, plus the ending of last season’s game in Fayetteville, Auburn will enter Saturday’s contest with a sour taste in their mouths.

The last time these two teams met, Auburn traveled to Bud Walton Arena as the No. 1 team in the country and left with an 80-76 overtime loss. First-rounders Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler joined Wendell Green Jr. in reaching double-figures in the score column, but Arkansas took advantage of Auburn fouls by scoring 11 of their 14 overtime points from the free throw line.

All eyes will be on Neville Arena this Saturday, as Auburn and Arkansas will be the only game in the SEC featuring two ranked teams. In an effort to help us learn more about Auburn’s next opponent, we reached out to Razorbacks Wire’s Connor Goodson for assistance.

Goodson joined us to discuss Arkansas’ first SEC win of the season over Missouri, injury woes, and the growing legend of Ricky Council VI. Without further delay, here is the next edition of Behind Enemy Lines with Connor Goodson of Razorbacks Wire.

The Council of Fayettville

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Arkansas’ most recent win was a come-from-behind effort over Missouri. What was the biggest halftime adjustment that ended up leading the Razorbacks to a win?

Missouri, like a lot of teams this season, came out in zone and had a lot of success due to Arkansas’ lack of perimeter shooting. Musselman inserted freshman sharpshooter Joseph Pinion in the second half to provide some shooting and it worked. Pinion knocked down three from deep to open up the Missouri zone and give guys like Ricky Council lanes to attack.

Next man up

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Arkansas has two significant injuries on the report, Trevon Brazile and Nick Smith Jr. Who has stepped up in their absence?

Anthony Black and Ricky Council have been huge for this team all season, and are being asked to do a lot on offense. Freshman wing Jordan Walsh has played with a lot more confidence since the Brazile injury and his offense is starting to catch up with his defense. Makhi Mitchell has also been really solid down low.

Building a new image

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This year’s roster is almost completely different from last season’s thanks to additions from the transfer portal and solid high school talent. How does Eric Musselman manage his rotation with so many talented players on the roster?

That’s really Musselman’s M.O. He likes the challenge and has fully embraced having a lot of roster turnover each season. He also has a reputation for very short rotations, playing maybe seven or eight guys at most each game. Arkansas has one of the deepest rosters in the conference, but that hasn’t really changed how many guys see meaningful minutes. Pinion breaking out against Missouri is a good example of Arkansas having guys on the bench that can play, but they’re just not cracking the short, nightly rotation.

Shocking the world

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Auburn’s strong suit to this point of the season has been defense. Which Razorback has the best chance to have a great night offensively?

Ricky Council has been Arkansas’ offense for the majority of this season. Arkansas was down 17 to Missouri in the first half on Wednesday, and Council only had four points. He finished with 25 and the Hogs won. He’s going to need to continue to be great and Anthony Black needs to get going again. He’s been stuffing the stat sheet with rebounds, assists and steals, but hasn’t had a really dominant offensive performance since his breakout game in Maui around Thanksgiving.

Standing tall

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What does Arkansas need to do well in order to leave Neville Arena with a win?

Continue to play really good defense, force turnovers and get out in transition as much as possible. Auburn will probably throw some different zone or match-up zone looks their way in the halfcourt, so they’re going to have to knock down perimeter shots and continue to be aggressive in attacking the rim.

By the hair of the hog

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What is your final score prediction?

Arkansas in a close one, 75-72.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire