With football being the driving force behind the SEC, basketball tends to take a back seat. With Florida’s loss to Miami, only Kentucky looks to be top-25 worthy. However, fans should take notice of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Arkansas hasn’t been known for their basketball program as of late. This year, the team might finally get the respect it deserves, and possibly make the NCAA Tournament.
In the Razorbacks first two games, they have scored a combined 180 points and have outscored their two opponents by 50 points, including a 30-point rout of Wake Forest.
The barrage of points has come from the team’s ability to shoot the three-pointer. They have made 15 shots from beyond the arc in their two games. Forward Bobby Portis has shot three of the 15 makes, and he might very well be the Razorbacks best offensive weapon.
Portis is widely considered one of the 50 best players in the nation. Last season Portis had a successful freshman season putting up averages of 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, and he has come out of the gate strong for his Sophomore year.
In the team’s win against Alabama State, Portis put up 24 points for the Razorbacks, and while his four rebounds weren’t near his Freshman averages, he was clearly the most effective player on the court.
Portis and the Razorbacks followed up their win against Alabama State with a game against Wake Forest. This time Portis wasn’t the scoring threat he was in the team’s first game, but he didn’t have to be.
Arkansas beat Wake Forest with a good old-fashioned full court press. Wake Forest was having trouble getting the ball up court and creating offense of their own, and once Wake Forest did settle in on their own end, Arkansas proved to be too much.
The Razorbacks dominating presence down low forced Wake Forest to take ill-advised perimeter shots, and they couldn’t find their groove offensively.
Struggles against the frontcourt and press could be the story for many more Arkansas opponents. As a team, Arkansas has recorded 10 blocks and 25 steals.
Arkansas will probably not make it into conference play undefeated. They have tough matchups against Iowa State, Clemson, and SMU.
The team starts conference play on January 6th, and its first test will be Florida on January 31st. However, they will have a long wait for Kentucky as they don’t play the Wildcats until February 28th.
By then, Arkansas might be considered the best team in the SEC, if they can find a way to continue playing as they have been early in the season.