Texas Longhorns (13-0 SU, 8-1 ATS) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (7-7 SU, 2-5 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Monday, January 4, 2009, Fifth Third Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Texas -15.5/Arkansas +15.5
Last season, the Texas Longhorns did not enjoy their trip to Fayetteville. The Arkansas Razorbacks defeated Texas 67-61 when the Longhorns were ranked No. 7 in the country. This season, Texas is better and has revenge on their minds and Arkansas is not quite as good as it was at this point last season, but anything can happen at home and the Razorbacks will try to pull off another epic upset over the Longhorns in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks got the job done last season with defense. They held Texas to 35 percent shooting from the field and 1-for-14 from 3-point range. Michael Washington scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Arkansas. The Razorbacks lost the rebounding battle by 13 and they shot just 39 percent themselves, including 5-for-18 from 3-point range, but they still managed to win the game.
Texas’s defense is against stifling this season. The Longhorns are holding their opponents to 34.5 percent shooting from the field and 28.9 percent from beyond the arc. They’re also forcing 18.7 turnovers per game. They are out-rebounding opponents by more than six boards per game and are getting a lot of easy baskets, as they are shooting over 49 percent from the field.
Arkansas doesn’t have as many weapons as it had last season, while the Longhorns have more weapons with the addition of Jai Lucas, Avery Bradley, Jordan Hamilton and J’Covan Brown. Texas lost A.J. Abrams but he was 3-for-16 in last year’s game against Arkansas, so overall the Longhorns will be tougher to defend then they were last season. Arkansas will have to shoot a very high percentage from 3-point land to have a chance to win this game. Rotnei Clarke has been lighting it up all season long, averaging 19 points per game and making 51 percent of his 3-pointers and almost four of them per game. Clarke will have to have one of his better shooting performances against Texas to keep Arkansas in the game. It will also be important for Washington to stay out of foul trouble and hold his own down low.
This is a chance for Clarke and Washington to shine on national television against top-notch competition, so the two of them should be prepared to play well and showcase their skills.
Damion James was the only Texas player to shoot over 50 percent in the loss to Arkansas last season. He scored a game-high 17 points on 8-for-15 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Dexter Pittman had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Gary Johnson had 15 points and 12 rebounds, so the Longhorns really dominated down low. They will likely attack the Arkansas frontline once again in Tuesday’s matchup.
Texas is undefeated at 13-0 and has gotten wins over Michigan State, North Carolina, USC, Pitt and Iowa. The Longhorns are coming off an unimpressive 76-70 win at home over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Despite the weak performance in the win over TAMU-CC, a game that was not lined, the Longhorns are 3-0 ATS in their last three games. Texas has scored at least 69 points in every game this season. The Longhorns have played only one game on the road this season, a 77-59 win at Rice.
Arkansas is coming off two straight losses to Baylor and UAB, the latter which was by only one point and both of which came at home. The Baylor loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Razorbacks. Their best win this season came in overtime over Missouri State while they’ve had a few bad losses at home to Morgan State, East Tennessee State and South Alabama, as well as blowout road losses at Louisville and Oklahoma.
Texas is 8-1 ATS this season. The Longhorns are 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine road games and 1-4-1 ATS in their last five games as a road favorite. Arkansas is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games as a home underdog but is only 1-6 ATS in its last seven games overall as an underdog.
Ryno’s Pick: Last season’s win for Arkansas over Texas was shocking but if it happened again this season it would be much more shocking. The Razorbacks just aren’t a very good team, and the Longhorns are one of the best teams in the country. This is only their second true road game, but Arkansas has lost at home to some pretty awful teams and has yet to beat any quality teams other than Missouri State. The Longhorns want revenge in this one and the Razorbacks just don’t have the talent to do anything about it. Take Texas -15.5.