What To Watch For Vs. Arkansas

Matthew McGavic

After winning their first couple games to start off 2019, coach Josh Pastner's Yellow Jackets experienced their first setback of the season in a hard fought 82-78 loss at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs. Hoping to bounce back and get back on the right track, Georgia Tech returns home to McCamish Pavilion and is setting their eyes on the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks. Tipoff is set for this Monday at 7:00pm on the ACC Network. Here are a couple of the more significant storylines to follow ahead of Tech's 7th all-time matchup with the Hogs.

Stifling Defense:

The Razorbacks have the most stout defense they will have faced all season, and have the best overall until Georgia Tech faces off against the Kentucky Wildcats on December 14th. According to KenPom, Arkansas is ranked:

- 2nd in opponent's effective FG% (35.7%)

- 2nd in opponent's 3PT % (13.6%)

- 6th in opponent's turnover % (29.1%)

- 6th in steal % (15.8%)

Not only is Arkansas good at defending shots, they force other teams to make mistakes on their own. Georgia Tech has at times not taken very good care of the ball, especially with point guard Jose Alvarado not at full strength. Their ability to not turn the ball over will certainly be put to the test against the Razorbacks. 

Arkansas is so good at defending the perimeter that in terms of defensive point distribution (% of total opponent's points scored), they are ranked #1 in all of division 1 in 2PT field goals (67.8%) and third to last in 3PT field goals (13.8%). While sophomore guard Michael Devoe is having a hot start from beyond the arc, he might run into a speed bump come Monday night.

The Big Three:

Offensively, the Razorbacks place a heavy reliance on their top three players. Guards Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Jimmy Whitt Jr. consist of 64.2% of Arkansas' total points. All three average 14 or more, while no one else on the team averages more than 8. Out of the 14 double digit point performances in the Razorbacks' 5 games so far this season, Joe, Jones & Whitt Jr. account for 11 of them.

If anyone has potential to step up other than the "Big Three", it would be fellow guard Desi Stills. The sophomore has had a slow start to his season, shooting just 1-22 from beyond the arc. But he is fully capable of making those shots, as he was 46% on his three points attempts last season (led the team).

However, the Razorbacks don't tend to look for much outside of their starting lineup. Jalen Harris is the one player who has not started a game and averages more than 20 minutes per contest, but he has only been involved in 12.9% of Arkansas' possessions while he is on the floor.

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