Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - The 21st-ranked and second-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks get to work in the SEC Tournament, as they take on the 10th-seeded Tennessee Volunteers in quarterfinal action from Bridgestone Arena on Friday evening.
The winner of this game will move into the semifinals against South Carolina or Georgia.
Behind a strong offensive attack, Arkansas was able to finish second in the league, despite dropping two of the last three games in the regular season. Still, the team posted a strong 24-7 overall record, with a 13-5 mark in the SEC, five games behind unbeaten and top-ranked Kentucky. Arkansas has won just one SEC Tournament title and that came in 2000.
The Volunteers entered the postseason with losses in six of their last seven games, but Donnie Tyndall's squad came up big in the second round, battling from behind to earn a 67-61 victory over Vanderbilt. Tennessee is now 63-50 in SEC Tournament play, with four titles, the last of which came back in 1979.
These two teams split the regular-season series with each winning by five points at home.
Tennessee doesn't win games with flashy offensive stats. The Volunteers came into the postseason averaging just 62.9 ppg on a modest .429 shooting. Senior guard Josh Richardson was named an All-SEC First-Teamer and a two-time All-SEC Defensive Team member this year, averaging team-highs in scoring (15.6 ppg), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (league-high 2.1 per game) in the regular season. Juniors Armani Moore (10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Kevin Punter (10.2 ppg) played big roles this year as well.
Richardson led the charge for Tennessee, netting 22 points in the come-from- behind win over Vanderbilt on Thursday. Robert Hubbs poured in 16 points and Devon Baulkman added 12 for the Vols, who overcame a 59-47 deficit with just over seven minutes remaining, using a 20-2 run down the stretch to get the win.
Scoring points wasn't a problem for the Razorbacks this season, as they were the top scoring team in the SEC (79.0 ppg), while shooting .450 from the floor. Arkansas also had a knack for forcing turnovers (16.3 per game) and held an impressive +4.5 turnover margin as a result.
Sophomore forward Bobby Portis led the league in field-goal percentage (.563), ranked second in scoring (17.8 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (8.7 rpg), so it came as little surprise when he was named the SEC Player of the Year. Michael Qualls (15.3 ppg) can fill up the basket as well and was named to the All-SEC Second-Team. Rashad Madden (10.0 ppg) adds another scoring threat to the roster, while Anton Beard (6.0 ppg) found his way on the All-Freshman team.