AUBURN, Ala. — Bruce Pearl isn’t expecting any surprises when his Auburn basketball team takes on Arkansas on Saturday night in Auburn Arena.
Pearl is confident, however, about two things that will be plentiful: speed and scoring.
As the regular season comes to a close, the Razorbacks sit behind Florida and Kentucky in the SEC standings. Mike Anderson’s team has raced through the season averaging 81.1 points per game; Kentucky tops the conference with 88.2 ppg.
“The two teams that I’ve been most impressed with in our league so far would be Florida and Arkansas,” Pearl said while previewing the Saturday game. “Offensively, boy, they’re really good. They’re deep, they’re tough, they’re athletic, they shoot it from 3. They and Florida are two of the best transition teams in the country.”
Auburn might not have trouble executing its offense against Arkansas — the Tigers are third in the SEC in scoring, averaging 80.5 points. Its challenge is on defense. Pearl’s squad allows 85.3 points to conference foes — the most staggering lapses happening in second halves.
Earlier in the week, Auburn allowed a 1-14 LSU team to reach 75 points in Baton Rouge. Will the Tigers be able to stifle the Hogs?
“You know, I don’t know,” Pearl said. “I could have some fun with it and say no … yeah, I don’t know that we can keep them under their average.”
The Tigers are battling for a spot in postseason play. The National Invitation Tournament and the College Basketball Invitational are options if Auburn doesn’t win the SEC Tournament or get an NCAA Tournament bid. Saturday marks the first of two remaining games this season at Auburn Arena.
With the win over LSU, Auburn secured its first winning season since 2008-09. With 17 wins in 28 games, Auburn and its young players have encountered just about everything they could expect.
“As far as they’re going to play man and match up, they’re going to press and they’re going to run a bunch of stuff that’s hard to guard. We’ve seen all that,” Pearl said. “So it’s a matter of putting in what we need to do game plan-wise.
“We’re going to have to score points to beat them because they’re going to score points. There’s a lot at stake for both teams.”
Auburn basketball Saturday night
Projected starting 5
* Blocks per game
Auburn vs. Arkansas game details, time, TV channel
Arkansas (21-7, 10-5 SEC) vs. Auburn (17-11, 6-9 SEC)
Game time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, Ala.
TV: SEC Network
How to watch online: SECNetwork.com
Follow live stats: GameTracker