No. 4 Alabama set to face No. 15 Arkansas in Fayetteville

Mathey Gibson, Staff Reporter

On Monday, Alabama men’s basketball found itself back inside the top five of the AP Poll for the first time since early December.  

As the Crimson Tide continues to climb, its daunting schedule isn’t giving it any easy passes.  

Now, as Alabama hits the road, its opponent will have a little bit of history on its side.  

Heading into Wednesday’s matchup with No. 15 Arkansas, No. 4 Alabama will be looking to drop Eric Musselman’s team to a 1-3 start in conference play when it visits Bud Walton Arena.  

Since joining the league in 1991, the Razorbacks have hosted 11 ranked SEC opponents as a ranked team itself and have won in every instance.   

Including non-conference games, Arkansas is 18-4 all-time in AP top-25 matchups at home, but Wednesday’s contest will be its first top-15 matchup at home since 1995.  

While the Razorbacks have sputtered out the gate during SEC play, there’s no denying how talented they are. 

Leading the way in the backcourt for Arkansas is Ricky Council IV, a lengthy and explosive 6-foot-6 guard capable of putting up 20 or more points on any given night.  

A transfer from Wichita State, the junior is averaging 18.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a primary ball handler. 

Joining Council IV for the Razorbacks is Anthony Black, a 6-foot-7 point guard and former five-star averaging 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game as a freshman.  

Another five-star freshman, Jordan Walsh, has anchored the frontcourt alongside running mate Makhi Mitchell.   

Walsh, a 6-foot-7 froward from Desoto, Texas, is averaging 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game as a starter in Fayetteville. 

“Arkansas has really good players, really good coach,” Alabama head coach Nate Oats said Monday. “They’ve got a little bit of an injury issue, but they’ve still got plenty of talent there to compete with anybody.” 

In what could likely be a fatal blow to the Razorbacks’ SEC title hopes, they’ll likely be without former five-star and consensus No. 1 overall high school prospect Nick Smith Jr. for much of the season as he recovers from a knee injury.  

Joining Smith on the injury report is forward Trevon Brazile, who was in the midst of a breakout sophomore campaign while averaging 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds before suffering a torn ACL in December.  

While Musselman’s squad hasn’t had the start they envisioned, Oats knows the Crimson Tide must step up to the challenge in hopes of another quadrant-one victory. 

“It’s a big road game for us, big test,” Oats said. “If you’re going to try and win a conference championship, these are the games you have to come ready to play in.” 

Tipoff for No. 4 Alabama and No. 15 Arkansas is set for Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.   

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]