Vanderbilt (14-16) vs. Arkansas (19-12) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The 10th-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores and the seventh-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks square off in the second round of the 2013 SEC Tournament on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Awaiting the winner of this matchup in Friday's quarterfinals is second-seeded Kentucky.
Despite Vanderbilt's less-than-stellar record (14-16, 10-8 SEC), it comes into this tournament as one of the conference's hottest teams, winning four of its last five games, including a 74-64 decision at home over South Carolina last Saturday. The Commodores came out as tournament champions in 2012, although they have almost a completely new roster this season.
The majority of Arkansas' success this season has come thanks to one of the nation's best home court advantages (18-1), which included a 73-62 over Texas A&M to close out the regular season. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, they have not been the same team away from Fayetteville, going a combined 1-11 in road and neutral-site affairs.
The two teams split the season series this year, with each winning on its home floor by double-digits. Arkansas has a handle on the all-time series, 18-10.
Vanderbilt was up by 11 points at the half against South Carolina its last time out and never trailed from that point on. It was a great offensive effort by its standards, as the team shot nearly 46 percent from the field and 23- of-28 from the foul line. Rod Odom tallied 18 points and eight rebounds, Dai- John Parker also put up 18 points, and Kedren Johnson struggled from the floor (1-of-8), but drilled 10-of-12 at the free-throw line for 12 points. The Commodores usually have difficulty putting points on the board, scoring a league-low 60.0 ppg, but luckily they are able to remain competitive in most contests thanks to their outstanding defense (60.0 ppg). Johnson pours in 13.6 ppg to lead the way, while Odom adds 10.2 ppg to the mix.
Arkansas was actually outshot from the field by Texas A&M in its latest game, 51.2 percent to 38 percent, but it was still able to cruise to the double- digit victory by putting forth a strong 28-of-36 showing from the foul line, and by forcing 23 turnovers. Pacing five teammates in double figures was Mardracus Wade, who had 14 points on 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Michael Qualls netted 13 points, Rashad Madden had 11, and Anthlon Bell and Marshawn Powell scored 10 points apiece in the winning effort. On the season, the Razorbacks are one of the top scoring teams in the SEC with 73.7 ppg, although they have scored less than that average in seven straight games. BJ Young puts up 15.1 ppg on nearly 45 percent field goal shooting in the backcourt, while Powell tallies 14.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg and more than a block and a steal per contest. The balanced team also has nine others averaging between 3.4 and 7.6 ppg.
Arkansas is clearly the more gifted offensive team, but it's production has been on the downswing of late, and it always struggles away from Fayetteville. With Vanderbilt's strong defensive approach and its impressive play of late, an upset here not only seems possible, but likely.
GAME NOTES: The 10th-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores and the seventh-seeded
Arkansas Razorbacks square off in the second round of the 2013 SEC Tournament
on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bridgestone Arena (20,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee.
Television: SEC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Vanderbilt 9-6, Arkansas
18-1. Away Record: Vanderbilt 4-7, Arkansas 1-9. Neutral Record: Vanderbilt
1-3, Arkansas 0-2. Conference Record: Vanderbilt 8-10, Arkansas 10-8. Series
Record: Arkansas leads, 18-10.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 14, 7:30 p.m. (et)Predicted Outcome
Vanderbilt 64, Arkansas 62