FAYETTEVILLE - It will be almost like looking in the mirror.

FAYETTEVILLE - It will be almost like looking in the mirror.


Arkansas and Tennessee were picked in the preseason to finish side-by-side, just one spot away from each other. Two-thirds of the way through the regular season and halfway finished with the Southeastern Conference schedule, the Volunteers visit Fayetteville with the two teams holding, go figure, the exact same records.


They aren’t just the same in-conference records, but the same overall. An even greater coincidence is how each has done it. Because if there is one team in the league that’s been as nutty as the Razorbacks, it’s Tennessee.


Saturday’s visitors arrive to Bud Walton Arena with two wins and two losses in their last four games. The victories are impressive. Tennessee beat No. 24 South Carolina in late January then, most recently, came from 21 points down to dispatch No. 20 Kentucky. As impressive as those are, the losses are equally as unimpressive - a six-point defeat to Alabama and a 12-point loss to TCU came in between.


And that’s what Arkansas is banking on, ultimately. Those two Tennessee games were on the road. The Volunteers are just 1-6 when playing true road games this season.


"Without a doubt it’s a big game. We want to continue to hold serve at home," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.


The Razorbacks haven’t been Tennessee-bad on the road, but at home they are legitimately dangerous. Only twice have teams won in Fayetteville this season. One was Kentucky. Arkansas owns wins over Vanderbilt, Texas Tech and top-10 Texas A&M at BWA. Tennessee arrives an underdog.


Continuing the stretch of good play at home will require stalling Kevin Punter. Tennessee’s senior guard is the second-leading scorer in the SEC. He’s scored 509 points (21.3 per game) two-thirds of the way through the season. He had 328 points all last year. Behind LSU freshman Ben Simmons and Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody, Punter is the most dangerous player in the league.


"It’s like it’s his team," Anderson said. "It’s a dramatic turnaround for a guy from one year to the next year. He’s the leader of that basketball team and his teammates, they know that."


That’s maybe where the two teams differ the most. Arkansas does not have just one player like that. There are the big three - Moses Kingsley, Anthlon Bell and Dusty Hannahs - a trio that ranks sixth, seventh and eighth in individual scoring in the conference. Each has their strength. But each has a weakness that has been exploited at various times this season by the opposition en route to a victory.


Kingsley, for example, is coming off a Florida game in which he had 15 points and nine rebounds, but was whistled for a technical foul late in the game that led to two free Florida points. The Gators would ultimately win by just four, a final Arkansas shot at the buzzer would have been meaningless.


It was Kingsley’s second technical foul this season. Both obviously detrimental. Anderson was still frustrated when talking about it Thursday. The coach did not care for the call, but he also isn’t thrilled with Kingsley putting himself in position to even have those calls made.


"I am still baffled about it," Anderson said. "He’s frustrated and so it may be how some guys can get up under your skin. Now he is probably mouthing off back to the guy and the official is right there. It’s one of those situations where it’s inexperience probably more than anything else."


With the SEC season half-over inexperience is going to have to turn if Arkansas wants to distinguish itself from Tennessee and the rest of the mid-pack teams in the conference. The Tennessee game starts a stretch of nine straight games - the final nine games, in fact - Arkansas can have a realistic, if not expected, chance to win. Only two of the final nine opponents currently have winning SEC records. Both of those opponents come at home.


But if the Hyde version of the Razorbacks shows, the version that peeked its head throughout the nonconference, then today’s current .500 record will be long-forgotten dream come March.


Today’s Ticket


Tennessee (11-11, 4-5 in SEC) at Arkansas (11-11, 4-5) )


When: 7 p.m.


Where: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville


TV: SEC Network


Radio: Razorback Sports Network


Line: N/A


Coaches: Tennessee’s - Rick Barnes (11-11 in first season); Arkansas - Mike Anderson (97-59 in fifth season)


Projected lineups: Projected lineups: Tennessee - G Kevin Punter (6-2, Sr., 23.1 ppg), G Devon Baulkman (6-4, Sr., 8.7 ppg), F Kyle Alexander (6-9, Fr., 1.3 ppg), F Adrmiral Schofield (6-5, Fr., 7.1 ppg), F Armani Moore (6-4, Sr., 12 ppg); Arkansas - G Jabril Durham (6-1, Sr., 6.4 ppg), G Anthlon Bell (6-3, Sr., 16.7 ppg), G Dusty Hannahs (6-3, Jr., 17.2 ppg), G Manny Watkins (6-3, Jr., 5.7 ppg), F Moses Kingsley (6-10, Jr., 16.4 ppg)