By: Mark Lane (@therealmarklane)
COLLEGE STATION — Two former Southwest Conference rivals take each other on for the first time in Southeastern Conference action tonight, and listeners have a choice of whose side they are on as the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 2-3) visit the Texas A&M Aggies (9-7, 1-4).
Fox Sports 1400 Texarkana will be carrying the Razorbacks play-by-play with Chuck Barrett and Matt Zimmerman calling the action while our sister station, 94.1 FM ESPN Texarkana, will broadcast Aggies play-by-play with Dave South and Al Pulliam on the call.
Arkansas recently has not fared well at Reed Arena, losing their last three contest and not having one a game there since Jan. 23, 1991 when the two squads were in the defunct SWC. Overall, Arkansas is 37-36 when visiting College Station. The Razorbacks are the Aggies’ sixth-most common opponent with 153 games played between the two since the 1923-24.
“Going into Reed Arena, we haven’t had a whole lot of success,” said Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. “We’re looking forward to going in and hopefully putting together a game of 40 minutes and great defense. It’s going to be a physical ballgame. One of the things we have to do a good job is one the boards.”
Texas A&M leads the SEC in rebounding with a margin of +6.6. They are 16th in the nation in rebounds per game at 13.75. Along with their rebounding prowess, the Aggies also rank 14th nationwide in blocked shots per game at 5.9 per game. Leading the way for Texas A&M in rim protection is freshman Robert Williams, who leads the team with 41 blocked shots and has extended his blocked shot streak to 16, the most by an Aggie since Bryan Davis’ 17-game streak from Nov. 29, 2009 to Feb. 3, 2010.
The Razorbacks are equally fierce on the defensive side of the ball. The Hogs have scored double digits off turnovers in every game this season, including 25 points off Missouri’s 14 last Saturday. Given the inexperienced guard play of the Aggies, head coach Billy Kennedy knows the perimeter is one front his team cannot afford to lose.
Said Kennedy: “Our guys have shown in the preseason that we can take care of the ball. We’re capable of taking care of our turnovers. And we just have to do it. We’re giving the team the ball. I give them credit a lot of times. But sometimes it’s just not us being tough enough with the ball. If we don’t do that against Arkansas, that’s obviously one of the best things that Mike [Anderson’s] teams have done for years. It will be hard for us to win, even at home.”
The Razorbacks have yet to win a conference game on the road and are just 1-2 on the road all season. If the Aggies are going to best Arkansas, Tuesday night would be the optimal time to do so.
Kennedy is 3-4 all-time coaching against Arkansas with a 3-3 record with the Aggies. Anderson is 3-9 against Texas A&M all-time with a 3-3 mark as Arkansas’ head coach. Fun fact: Hogs associate head coach Melvin Watkins was the 18th Aggies head coach from 1998-2004 and compiled a 60-112 record at the school.