FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays host to Missouri on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in a game televised by the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network. The Razorbacks are 4-1 following Saturday’s 89-67 win over Delaware State while Missouri is 5-1. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Monday to preview the game. Following is a partial transcript of the press conference.
“We had to make some adjustments in the first half. We came out with a lot of energy in the second half, especially defensively. Our guys made good decisions in terms of sharing the ball. It was fun to watch them play with that energy.”
“Coach (Mike) Anderson is a terrific coach and a good human being. He gave a large portion of his life and career to Arkansas. Because of his efforts, talent and hard work, I’m reaping some of those benefits. I have the utmost respect for Mike and I know our fans appreciate what he’s done. His teams are as close to playing Coach (Nolan) Richardson as you can get.
“Against that system and style, it’s all predicated on pressuring the ball. You have to handle it, pass it and dribble it. You have to be strong with the ball. If you dribble more than three times, somebody will get a hand on it. We have to be ready to shoot. It is a relentless pursuit of the ball and we have to be ready for it.
“We played them last year and the areas we needed to improve on were handling the ball and passing. It’s a big game. Missouri is picked in the upper half of their league so expectations are high. It’s a big challenge for us.
“I don’t think anybody can create the pace that Coach Anderson and Coach Richardson do. That is what makes them unique. There are some similarities in what we do and in philosophy. It’s very, very difficult to create that speed.
“They have good guard play. (Stefhon) Hannah is giving them good play and Jason Horton, I recruited his brother to Florida. With their guard play, they have a chance to turn people over a lot.
“(DeMarre) Carroll has gotten a lot better. He was making tremendous strides at Vanderbilt. He can play a lot of different ways. He is at the front of the press, he’s a high-energy guy, he’s a very good driver, a fantastic passer and he rebounds out of his area.”
Facing Mike Anderson while at South Alabama:
“We played UAB a couple of times. They shot a great percentage in the game at their place and won and they won in Mobile as well.”
Last year’s game:
“There were a lot of turnovers. I’ve experienced some of that as the head coach now. For us, every time we take the court, no matter the opponent, (taking care of the ball) will be an emphasis for us.”
“We have been better. VCU is a legitimate pressing team. What they do is similar to what we’ll see against Missouri.
“The players understand that’s not how you’re supposed to play (turnovers against College of Charleston and Providence). I’m sure they didn’t have any fun playing that way. They are seniors, they want to be better focused, they’ve taken pride in themselves, those games were on TV and the coaching staff has tried to prepare them and put them in better position.
“We want to go as fast as we can, but still be in control. We want to attack their pressure. If we don’t have it, then we want to make sure we get space and get the ball in the frontcourt.”
Stefan Welsh and Gary Ervin:
“We’ve played better and been more consistent in the backcourt, in particular Gary and Stefan. That’s positive. I’m looking forward to seeing how they will work over the next two days. This will be their biggest challenge to date.”