FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following Thursday’s 89-80 victory over Alabama, Arkansas’ men’s basketball teams heads to Baton Rouge for Saturday’s 4 p.m. game against LSU. The game is being televised by Fox Sports Net. The Razorbacks are 13-5 overall and 1-4 in the Southeastern Conference while LSU is 16-4 overall and 4-1 in the league. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Friday to preview the game. Following is a partial transcript of the press conference.
“Looking at LSU, they are playing really well. They have a good team. I have a lot of respect for their players. Tasmin Mitchell is terrific. He’s been an all-league type of guy for a couple of years. Marcus Thornton is an explosive, explosive scorer. Chris Johnson is a tremendous defensive player and shot blocker. Bo Spencer has really made that freshman-to-sophomore year improvement. Garrett Temple has done some good things.
“We have our hands full. We need our best game of the year to have a chance to win.
“We need to play good defense and rebound without fouling. We can’t give them a lot of free throws. We need to fast break for easy baskets and perform. We need good play across the board.
“(Head coach) Trent Johnson is an outstanding coach. He’s been successful wherever he’s been. He has those guys playing at a high level if not better than anyone else in the league.”
Confidence after beating Alabama:
“I don’t think we ever felt we were at a point where we doubted we could win. I think we’ve learned a lot about how good this league is and about how good the coaching is, and how small our margin of error is.”
“He will play. I’m excited about it. He gives us another frontcourt option. He keeps us from having to play Jason Henry at the power forward spot. We need Brandon’s defense in the low post. His attitude has been terrific. He’s had a very, very good attitude.”
“There is still no word (on his availability).”
“The staff and team have encouraged him to be who he is and to shoot when he’s open, and to get better at ball faking and driving the ball. I’m not consumed with the making and the missing as long as they are taking good shots and putting in the time in practice. I’m okay with it.”
Stefan Welsh and Courtney Fortson:
“To have the ability to be a good lead guard, you have to be able to make other guys better, control the game, and show patience and poise on offense. Last night, they did what we needed to do to win. I was very, very pleased. They need to understand what they need to do each moment they are out there to help us be the best we can be.”
Nolan Richardson, who spoke to the team on Thursday:
“I’m very, very passionate about being at Arkansas and I love the history. We tried to get Coach Richardson to come in early in the week. He spoke to the team before our game day practice. As much as he wants to be around, he’s welcome and he knows that.
“He encouraged them to play with tremendous energy, especially at home. He’s called when things were going well and when they weren’t. He cares.”
“I thought he did very well. (Trainer) Dave England has done a good job with him and Jason has found value in getting in the training room. He has very good talent. He needs to become consistent in his personal life and find value in the things that will help him play well.”