He's a bomb threat
Rotnei Clarke

Posted Mar 2, 2010


The gameplan for beating Tennessee isn't complicated: You just need one guy to break down the defense and another guy to drain some 3-pointers.

That formula worked for Southern Cal on Dec. 19 as Mike Gerrity shredded the Vol defense and the Trojans shot 42.9 percent (3 of 7) from 3 en route to a 77-55 romp.

The formula worked for Georgia on Jan. 23 as Travis Leslie repeatedly got to the rim and the Dawgs shot 58.3 percent (7 of 12) from 3 on their way to a 78-63 victory.

The formula worked for Vanderbilt on Jan. 27 as Jermaine Beal broke down the defense and the Commodores shot 57.1 percent (8 of 14) from 3 en route to a 85-76 win.

The formula worked for Kentucky on Feb. 13 as John Wall attacked the rim and the Cats shot 36.9 percent (7 of 19) from 3 on their way to a 73-62 verdict.

That's why Arkansas - even coming off four losses in its last five games - poses a threat Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Razorbacks (14-15 overall, 7-7 SEC) have a break-down guy in Courtney Fortson and a 3-point gunner in Rotnei Clarke.

Fortson leads the SEC in assists (league games only) at 6.0 per game. Clarke leads the conference in both 3-pointers made (3.39 per game) and 3-point percentage (44.2).

Although No. 16 Tennessee (21-7 overall, 9-5 in SEC play) is clearly superior, head coach Bruce Pearl knows his team could have its hands full against the Hogs ... especially with the Vols coming off an emotionally draining upset of No. 2 Kentucky.

"Your game plan revolves around Fortson getting to the rim and Rotnei Clarke making 3s," Pearl said. "It's a dangerous team and obviously in a dangerous place on the schedule. It's one of the better offensive teams in the league."

Obviously, Clarke is Tennessee's primary concern. A hot 3-point shooter can turn a game all by himself. Tennessee discovered that last year, when Jodie Meeks hit 10 of 15 behind the arc and burned the Vols for 54 points at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Tennessee leads the SEC in 3-point defense this season, allowing opponents to make just 29.1 percent of their long-range shots. The Vols limited Kentucky to 2-of-22 shooting beyond the arc last weekend by using a matchup zone. That may not be an option Wednesday night, however.

"We were able to rely on a zone defense against Kentucky that we will not be able to rely on against Arkansas because of the way they attack zone," Pearl said. "Rotnei Clark is a shooter and Fortson is a breakdown guy, so that's not going to be the defensive answer that the zone was against Kentucky both times we played.

"We'll have to do some other things, as far as our matchups defensively are concerned."


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