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No. 13 Arkansas gets major road test at No. 22 Auburn

Dec 21, 2022; Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Ricky Council IV celebrates from the bench during the second half against the UNC Asheville Bulldogs at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas won 85-51. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Following its first SEC loss, No. 22 Auburn will look to extend its home-winning streak to 27 games when it hosts No. 13 Arkansas on Saturday night.

Despite Johni Broome’s third double-double (22 points, 12 rebounds), as well as 11 points off the bench from Allen Flanigan, poor shooting and subpar perimeter defense contributed to the Auburn’s 76-64 road loss at Georgia on Wednesday.

The Tigers (11-3, 1-1 SEC) shot 34.8 percent (24 of 69) from the field, including 21.4 percent from the 3-point line, as only one starter — Broome — scored in double figures.

Remaining starters Chris Moore, Jaylin Williams, Wendell Green Jr. and Zep Jasper were a combined 8 of 31 (25.8 percent) from the floor and 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) from 3-point range. Green, the team’s second-leading scorer (12.3 points per game), was 0 of 6 from long range.

Auburn has struggled to defend opposing backcourts, and that trend continued. Georgia’s backcourt duo of Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo penetrated the Tigers’ defense the entire game to help the Bulldogs to a 36-28 advantage on points in the paint. Roberts matched a career high with 26 points, while Oquendo added 17.

“Our problem has been going against really good guards,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “We have to get better point-guard play. … Keeping guards in front of us has become an issue.”

Broome, Auburn’s leading scorer (13.1 ppg) and rebounder (8.7 per game), became the first Tigers player since All-American Jabari Smith, an NBA first-round pick, to register double-doubles in back-to-back games. Smith accomplished the feat in last year’s disappointing two-game run in the NCAA Tournament.

“Coach Pearl said we’ve got to fix a lot of things, but everything is fixable,” Broome said. “Let’s get back to it and let’s get the next one.”

Arkansas (12-2, 1-1 SEC) rallied from 17 points down for a 74-68 home win over No. 20 Missouri on Wednesday in its SEC home opener.

The Razorbacks outscored the Tigers 47-34 in the second half despite shooting just 28.6 percent from behind the 3-point line (6 of 21) in the game.

Leading scorer Ricky Council IV (18.4 ppg) scored 21 of his team-high 25 points in the second half. But it was sharp-shooter Joseph Pinion who gave Eric Musselman’s team a huge lift with 13 points off the bench against Missouri’s rugged zone defense.

The freshman played a career-high 27 minutes and was 4 of 7 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Musselman inserted Pinion into the game with Arkansas trailing by 10 in the first half.

“When you watch your team spot shoot, he (Pinion) is an elite shooter,” Musselman said. “The way their zone is, they have so many guys above the foul line, that deep corner was a sweet spot for somebody.”

Anthony Black (11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists), Davonte Davis (8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds), Makhi Mitchell (7.6 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Jordan Walsh (7.9 points) joined Council in the starting lineup against Missouri for the seventh straight game. The Razorbacks are 6-2 with that starting lineup.

–Field Level Media