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In some circles, Arkansas’ game against South Carolina on Tuesday night would be termed a swing game. It isn’t a must-win, but results for the rest of the season could hinge on the outcome, especially for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas has won two straight games after an 0-3 start in SEC play, bringing itself back into the conversation for the NCAA Tournament. Saturday’s victory at LSU, which had only lost one game to that point, provided the Hogs with a top-quadrant win, bolstering not only their record but their resume.
South Carolina would not provide such a boost. But given the quality at the top of the SEC and Arkansas’ playing of those teams late in the season, the Razorbacks would be wise to rack up as many should-be wins as possible before that time comes.
The Gamecocks are just 1-3 in SEC play and lost to Florida over the weekend. They do own a win over Vanderbilt, however, a team that beat Arkansas a couple weeks ago inside Bud Walton Arena. They’re led by 6-foot-4 guard Erik Stevenson who averages 11.3 points per game.
Arkansas forward Trey Wade, a player who has established himself as a key cog in the Razorbacks rotation the last couple weeks, played with Stevenson two seasons ago at Wichita State. Wade himself has been excellent of late, scoring 17 points in the big win at Missouri and logging 20 quality minutes in the post against LSU.
Arkansas assistant coach Keith Smart is likely to serve as interim head coach for the second straight game as usual head man Eric Musselman continues to recover from shoulder surgery.