What a difference a month can make. On the 8th of January, Arkansas lost its third straight contest to open SEC play. Fast forward to February 8th and the Razorbacks streak is up to 9 consecutive wins after an overtime upset of top-ranked Auburn. Eric Musselman’s squad is one of the hottest in the nation right now. They have climbed up to 3rd in the SEC standings and are 18-5 overall. It has been quite the turnaround over the last few weeks.
Arkansas Razorbacks Streak Up to Nine Wins in a Row
Not only is Arkansas winning at a high rate, but they are showing they can do it in multiple ways. They have three SEC wins when scoring in the 60s, holding their opponent to 58 or less in each game. During the rest of the Razorbacks streak, they have scored 75 or more. That versatility is a scary thought for the rest of the SEC. Plenty of good teams can succeed when they are playing the way they want, but showing you can win in multiple ways can take a team from good to great. Also, success in the NCAA tournament is often about matchups, and having different formulas for winning will make this team a difficult draw for anyone they face.
Arkansas is led by the SEC’s top scorer JD Notae. He had 28 in the upset of Auburn, his eighth 20-point game of the season. It was the most points by a Razorback against a number one ranked team. Between his combined time at Jacksonville and Arkansas, he has over 1750 career points. The senior guard is always ready to take the big shots as well. He hit multiple big buckets late in-game on Tuesday. Notae gives the Razorbacks a guy that can take over a game when needed. He has made a more concerted effort to attack inside the arc and get to the free-throw line this season. That just expands the ways he can attack a defense and opens the floor for his teammates.
While Notae gets the headlines for his scoring abilities, Jaylin Williams is the team’s most important player. He is the only real post presence for a squad that routinely has four guards on the court. The 6’10” sophomore is averaging just under ten points and ten rebounds per contest. After scoring in double figures just twice over the first 14 games, he has done so in each of the last ten. He also has six double-doubles over that stretch. It is no coincidence that the Razorbacks streak started when Williams became more of a factor. He impacts the defensive end, with 12 blocks in a five-game span before Tuesday’s contest. His defensive and rebounding numbers have been consistent all season, but the recent jump in his offensive production has propelled Arkansas up the SEC standings.
A lot can change in a month. Arkansas has gone from falling towards the wrong side of the bubble to being one of the hottest teams in the country in the last 30 days. Now they must keep the momentum going so they don’t look back a month from now wondering what went wrong. This is the second Razorbacks streak of nine wins in a row this season. The two runs are sandwiched around a stretch where they lost five of six. This team still must go to Alabama, face Tennessee twice, and host Kentucky. With a schedule like that this team could stumble or work their way into a very high seed come March. If Notae and Williams continue to play this well, the latter is much more likely.
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