Michigan-Arkansas Preview

Michigan-Arkansas Preview

Published Jan. 20, 2012 1:02 a.m. ET

An emotional victory over its biggest conference rival could give Michigan the momentum it needs to improve its play on the road.

The No. 20 Wolverines look to build on their latest win and avoid a third consecutive road loss when they step out of the Big Ten to face Arkansas on Saturday.

Coming off an embarrassing 75-59 loss at Iowa last Saturday, Michigan (15-4) benefited from a vocal home crowd to edge rival and ninth-ranked Michigan State 60-59 on Tuesday. Stu Douglass took a pass from point guard Trey Burke and made the winning layup with 36.5 seconds left to help the Wolverines improve to 5-2 in the Big Ten and 12-0 at home.

While the outcome was ultimately the most important part, the Wolverines showed major improvement by shooting 51.1 percent after not making more than 39.6 percent of their shots in any of their previous three contests.


"My job is to be a better coach every day and get these guys to be better players every day," coach John Beilein told Michigan's official website.

His next task is to help the Wolverines improve on their 1-3 road mark. Two of those defeats - at Iowa and against then-unranked Virginia - have come by more than 10 points with Michigan failing to score 60 in either.

First-year Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, however, knows the Wolverines could pose a stiff challenge even though his squad has won 11 straight in Fayetteville to improve to 13-1 at home.

"It's an out-of-conference game, but it's a big one," Anderson told Arkansas' official website. "We're playing against a ranked opponent, a very good team.

"Our guys tend to play at a different level at home."

The Razorbacks (13-5) are holding opponents to 63.6 points per game at home, but must find a way to contain Michigan stars Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.4 points per game) and Burke (14.6 ppg).

One of the nation's top freshman, Burke scored 20 versus Michigan State and is averaging 19.3 in his last three games.

"Trey Burke is a special young man," Beilein said.

Hardaway, meanwhile, looks to regroup after totaling 19 points on 5-of-22 shooting in his last two games.

Arkansas also boasts a talented freshman in guard B.J. Young, who averages a team-leading 14.7 points on 51.3 percent shooting.

Young, however, looks to bounce back after he went 4 of 11 from the field and finished with 10 points in the Razorbacks' 86-63 loss at second-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday.

"We have to play better," Anderson said after his team fell to 2-2 in the SEC.

Tuesday's loss also dropped the Razorbacks to 1-2 against Top 25 opponents. That lone victory came at home Jan. 7 against then-No. 15 Mississippi State. Young had 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting in that 98-88 win.

Michigan leads the all-time series 3-2. The Wolverines won 77-62 in the schools' most recent meeting, the 1997 postseason NIT semifinals.

The Razorbacks won the last meeting in Arkansas, 83-72 on Nov. 28, 1981.