Vanderbilt is riding a four-game winning streak, but they haven't faced a challenge like the one they'll get in Fayetteville on Saturday.
The Commodores will face their toughest road test of the season when they head into the Bud Walton Arena to face #23 Arkansas. The Razorbacks are currently 12-2 after sandwiching a pair of six-game win streaks around an 0-2 stretch that happened back in early December. Vanderbilt will be hoping that six is the magic number once more.
The 'Dores have a four-game winning streak of their own to protect, and a win over the Hogs would quickly become the crown jewel of their still-developing resume. Their biggest victory to date came in double-overtime against a Yale team that rates out at #70 in ESPN's RPI. Arkansas, who is currently ranked 18th by the same standard, would finally populate the empty cell on Vandy's spreadsheet that's labeled "Top 50 Wins."
Kevin Stallings has to prove that his young team can win big games in 2015. Tomorrow's trip to Fayetteville will give him a huge opportunity to do so. Here's what you should look for when Vandy faces their first currently-ranked opponent of the year.
KenPom Rankings: Arkansas is 28th. Vanderbilt is 52nd.
Key Stat: 39.1%. The Razorbacks won't just beat you up inside with Bobby Portis - they can shoot you off the court from long range as well. That 39.1% three-point mark is 29th amongst Division I teams and a shade better than Vandy's 38.9% accuracy. Seven Razorbacks have made 36% or more of their long range shots in 2014-15. That will push the Commodores' perimeter defense to its limits in a hostile environment on Saturday.
Matchup to Watch: Bobby Portis vs. Damian Jones. Two stud sophomore big men will face off in a battle we may see on the NBA hardwood in 2018. Portis and Jones are two athletic players who can score efficiently around the rim, but their hyperactive defense and shot blocking could cancel each other out on Saturday. This pairing should bring a handful of professional scouts out to the Walton Arena. That will provide some extra motivation in this battle of 1-0 SEC teams.
Starters and Rotation Players:
|G -||Shelton Mitchell||5.6||3.0||4.9|
|G -||Riley LaChance||13.1||2.9||2.5|
|F -||Jeff Roberson||4.5||3.5||1.1|
|F -||James Siakam||10.2||6.1||0.7|
|C -||Damian Jones||16.2||7.1||1.1|
|G -||Wade Baldwin IV||7.4||3.5||4.2|
|G/F -||Matthew Fisher-Davis||5.5||2.2||1.1|
|F -||Luke Kornet||8.7||4.6||0.6|
|G -||Rashad Madden||9.6||2.6||5.2|
|G -||Michael Qualls||15.5||5.3||1.7|
|G -||Jabril Durham||2.8||1.3||2.4|
|F -||Moses Kingsley||5.6||3.1||0.5|
|F -||Bobby Portis||17.1||7.6||0.9|
|G -||Anthlon Bell||9.4||1.6||1.5|
|G -||Alandise Harris||8.5||3.5||1.4|
|F -||Jacorey Williams||6.6||3.4||1.6|