Time: 02:00 P.M. EST
While Texas A&M has used a pair of wins over ranked opponents to move into the Top 25, Arkansas has yet to challenge itself against such a foe until now.
The 25th-ranked Aggies have won six straight and the Razorbacks four in a row as they renew their former Southwest Conference rivalry Saturday in Dallas.
Texas A&M (9-1) won 63-62 over then-No. 21 Washington last Saturday for its second win in as many games against ranked foes. The Aggies are in the Top 25 for the first time since they finished No. 23 in 2009-10.
"I'm happy for the guys because they earned it," coach Mark Turgeon said. "They weren't getting any votes when the season started and they got two good wins and have one pretty good loss, which keeps looking better since Boston College keeps winning. We're a different animal now."
Arkansas (7-1) hasn't faced a very tough schedule with one of its first eight games outside its own state. The Razorbacks are anxious to see where they stand Saturday after going 1-6 against ranked foes last season.
"It's definitely a statement game, there's probably a lot of people watching us because we had a weaker schedule than others," said freshman guard Rickey Scott, a native of nearby Irving.
Turgeon and Arkansas coach John Pelphrey are anticipating a crowd featuring fans from both schools at the American Airlines Center. The teams have not met since the Razorbacks left the Southwest Conference to join the SEC in 1991, with Arkansas winning the six previous matchups.
Texas A&M is preparing for an Arkansas defense that has forced an SEC-high 18.6 turnovers per game. The Aggies had 18 turnovers last Saturday.
"They force 19 turnovers a game which, as you know, we haven't done a good job of taking care of the basketball," Turgeon said. "They are scoring at a good pace."
Rotnei Clarke is Arkansas' leading scorer at 13.8 points per game, but the junior guard failed to score for the first time since his freshman season in Wednesday's 87-64 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Razorbacks didn't need points from him, with Delvon Johnson and reserve Glenn Bryant posting double-doubles.
The defensive-minded Aggies have limited five of their opponents during this win streak to below 40.0 percent shooting and have outrebounded every foe this season. Washington shot a season-low 37.7 percent and was outrebounded 39-33.
"A&M is an outstanding team," Pelphrey said. "We're going to have to play very well. We're going to have to be outstanding with our defense and our rebounding. We're going to have to be tough and physical as well on offense."
Sophomore forward Khris Middleton is averaging 17.5 points in his last two games for the Aggies, the second-worst shooting team in the Big 12 at 44.7 percent. The Razorbacks have the second-best defense in the SEC, limiting opponents to 37.2 percent shooting.
"We have to get better at our offensive efficiency," Turgeon admitted. "It's not very good."
You May Also Like
Conversation powered by Livefyre