Arkansas-SMU Preview

BY foxsports • November 24, 2014

Arkansas is back in the AP Top 25 for the first time in seven years. It's been even longer since the program opened with four straight victories.

The 25th-ranked Razorbacks try to accomplish that feat for the first time since the 2006-07 season Tuesday night when they visit an SMU team that just fell out of the rankings and has dropped 12 straight in the series.

Arkansas has won its first three games by at least 18 points for the first time since 2004-05 and is easily the highest-scoring team in the SEC with 93.0 per game.

That start enabled the Razorbacks to jump into the Top 25 on Monday, and this will be the first time in 225 games that they will take the court as a ranked team.

Arkansas improved to 3-0 with a 99-71 win over Delaware State on Friday. Junior guard Michael Qualls had 20 points and three other players scored 14 apiece, but coach Mike Anderson made it a point to discuss the team's defense.

The Razorbacks have forced 44 turnovers in the last two games, with their opponents making 44 field goals.

"We turned up the pressure on defense and like I always say our defense leads to offense," Anderson told the school's official website. "Our defense tonight got us into an offensive rhythm and that's OK because we want to have a defensive mentality every single game."

SMU was No. 22 in the preseason poll but fell out Monday after losing twice last week. Following a 93-54 season-opening win over Lamar, the Mustangs fell 72-56 at then-No. 13 Gonzaga and 74-68 at Indiana before beating Eastern Washington 77-68 on Saturday.

Junior guard Nic Moore led SMU (2-2) with 22 points, six assists and two steals, while sophomore Keith Frazier added a career-high 17 points.

It was the first of seven straight games at renovated Moody Coliseum, where the Mustangs are 14-1 since it reopened last season. Arkansas is the biggest name during the homestand.

"This is a long season," coach Larry Brown said. "We've got a lot of big games. Our goal is to get better."

The Mustangs will likely be without senior transfer Justin Martin after the forward left Saturday's game with a right knee injury. Martin, who started against the Hoosiers, is averaging 7.5 points in 17.0 minutes.

"I don't think they thought it was ligament, he had some stability, but they think it's something that's going to probably take some time," Brown said.

SMU is already without forward Markus Kennedy because of eligibility issues. A unanimous preseason All-AAC pick along with Moore, Kennedy was second on the team with 12.4 points per game in 2013-14 and led the Mustangs with an average of 7.1 rebounds.

"We went from being real deep to not having a real deep bench. But we'll see. It will give other guys an opportunity," Brown said.

This is the first meeting at Moody Coliseum between these former Southwest Conference opponents since 1994-95. Arkansas leads the all-time series 95-59 after an 89-78 home win last Nov. 18.