FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play on Thursday with an 8 p.m. game at Auburn, which is being televised by ESPN2. The Razorbacks are 11-3 while Auburn is 9-3. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“With SEC play starting, we’re in the middle of the season. It is very difficult in league play. There are about nine weeks from here on out to get all the games played. Every one is important. Our job is to go back on the road and be as prepared as we can be. It’s hard enough at home, but when you go on the road, it’s even more difficult.
“In this league, with the coaches, the players and the environments, you have to play your best basketball to have a chance.”
What it takes to win on the road:
“You have to limit your mistakes, get as good a shot as possible and don’t turn it over on offense. On defense, you have to stay between your man and the basket and don’t foul.”
No different mindset for an SEC game:
“All the games are important. The season is similar to a game. You can make a mistake early while there is still a lot of game left and you can make up some of those. Now that we’re in conference play, we’re halfway through and there’s not a lot of room for mistakes the rest of the way.”
“Auburn is making progress. With me being in the state (at South Alabama) and seeing what Jeff (Lebo) is doing, it looks like they are heading in the right direction. They are going to be fired up and ready to go. It will not be easy.
“They will be very difficult to defend (four-guard lineup). For one, they can all put it on the floor and shoot. Quan Prowell is at center and that will be a difficult matchup. He can dribble, post up and shoot with range. We’ve had to face some teams like that (guard oriented) lately. It will take a tremendous effort, especially on the road.
“Can we handle the ball well enough and get it inside? There’s a battle there. Will it be our size or their speed?”
“He’s been a little more focused and aggressive, but he’s not totally there. He has scored more the last two games, but nine turnovers in two games are too many.”
“We all have more to give. Everyone is giving good effort, but I don’t know if we’re overachieving.”
“We’re not a high three-point shooting (attempts) team. Will we go nine-of-15 every night? Probably not, but the shots we took (at Baylor) were good ones.”
Patrick Beverley spending the summer playing with USA Basketball:
“I don’t think it’s had any affect on him. If anything, it’s been positive because he got coached by good coaches, and he played with and against good players.”
Gary Ervin and Stefan Welsh at point guard:
“You need at least two. I would like to have two guys at every spot, at least.
“They need to take care of the ball and continue to play well. Point guard is very important. They do a lot of stuff. The defense starts with them and they execute the offense. They need to know their assignments and everyone else’s.”
First SEC game as a head coach:
“It’s very important to get off to a good start, like we wanted to win the first game of the year. Road wins are hard to come by. If you want to compete for anything, you have to win on the road.”