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Fastbreak: Auburn basketball hosts Arkansas with 'a lot at stake'
Auburn's leading scorer, Mustapha Heron, averages 15 points per game. Photo courtesy Derick Hingle, USA Today Sports
Feb. 25, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - The shot-clock operator could take Saturday night off and it's likely no one would notice. Not at the tempo Auburn and Arkansas prefer to play.

"Florida's fast, too, but Arkansas is faster," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "They play faster than anybody in our league."

While Pearl says there's no way in practice to simulate the Razorbacks' pace, Auburn's previous opponents have provided a preview of what to expect.

"By the time we get to this point, we've seen everything," he said. "They're going to play man and match up. They're going to press. And they run a bunch of stuff that's hard to guard. We've seen all that. So, it's a matter of putting in what we need to do gameplan wise, but it's not like I have to reinvent the wheel at this point in the year."

Auburn (17-11, 6-9) hosts Arkansas (21-7, 10-5) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Auburn Arena.

"I hope we have a great turnout Saturday. I think we will," Pearl said. "We're playing for a lot. And we are a fun team to watch also because of the way we can score."

The Razorbacks, who have won four straight, are 14-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points.

"It'll be a high-scoring affair," Pearl said. "Florida came in here and put 114 on us. Arkansas is undefeated when they score more than 80. We average giving up 85 (in SEC play). You do the math.

"From the standpoint of it being an exciting game, an up-tempo game. I think people would rather see games in the 90s than games in the 50s or 60s. It could be 50s at halftime."

Auburn ranks No. 3 in the SEC in scoring, behind Kentucky and Arkansas.

"We spend some time bashing our defense because our defense is bashable," Pearl said. "But when was the last time Auburn was third in the league in scoring?"

Auburn ranks No. 79 in RPI, while Arkansas is No. 33.

"Late in the year, you keep looking for opportunities," Pearl said. "Where can we get a really good RPI win? How about the next two games. Look at Arkansas' RPI. Look at Georgia's RPI. We have some opportunities. For us to be able to meet our expectations and objectives, we need to finish this season strong.

 

 

"A lot at stake for both teams. Arkansas is in the field right now, and we're trying to get into a postseason field and trying to build on what we've done to this point -- how hard we've grinded and how hard we've worked to be in position.

"They're going to come in on fire and we're going to have to match and meet that intensity."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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