FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays host to Ole Miss on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. in a game televised by Fox Sports Net Southwest in Arkansas and on Sports South in other areas. The Razorbacks are 16-5 overall and 5-2 in the SEC following Saturday’s 80-61 victory over No. 20 Florida. The Rebels are 16-4 overall and 3-4. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“We have a little time before our next game. We’ll have a couple of hard practices. We had one on Monday and we’ll have another one (Tuesday).
“Mississippi is a really good team. They got off to a tremendous start. They have a good mixture of guards and frontcourt players. They have four guys up front. They are strong, athletic and tough. They are the top rebounding team in the SEC.
“Their frontcourt is big and physical. They very well could be the best frontcourt we’ve faced. They rebound at an alarming rate. We will talk to our players about how we have to rebound and compete. We can’t be average. We have to compete and overachieve.
“Chris Warren is one of the best guards in the league. He is incredibly good. He has speed and he shoots, and has been fantastic. He is Devan Downey-like. He might be faster, not quicker but faster. He will be a big challenge. All of our guards may get a chance at him. Eniel Polynice has got to be the most improved player in the league. He’s very aggressive offensively and is outstanding in transition.
“There are a lot of good things going on there. They are very close to being the top scoring team in the SEC. They are coming off a loss, so they will come in focused.
“They compete and get after it. They will not come into a game and get out-worked. This team works. (Head coach) Andy Kennedy has done a great job. The team reflects his personality.”
Ole Miss playing on the road:
“It means nothing to me what their records are. Games are not played on paper. They very easily could have won their first (SEC) game at Tennessee. They will come in, play hard and compete.
“I want us to defend home court and then you hope to get lucky and get a few on the road.”
Half-way point of the conference season:
“There is a lot at stake for everybody. The games will start feeling like they are worth two or three instead of one. A lot of value will be added to every game.”
“He was having a tough time for a while because there were some perimeter (defense) issues in the past. We all need to work on team defense – knowing where to rotate – across the board. Mike is pretty good at team defense because he rotates over and takes charges.”
Rob Evans, former head coach at Ole Miss:
“We all knew he would be able to help the team, players and coaches, and we knew he would be a great ambassador for the university and the state. We got a little more pop than I thought we would in recruiting. He had success at Ole Miss with some Arkansas kids and a lot of people remember that. He is invaluable. We can all handle things when we make the right call, but when you make the wrong one, I find value in that. He’s been there and done it.”
Playing as a team:
“I think we were disappointed in our performance at Georgia. I thought, going into the LSU game, that we would play our hardest. I wasn’t sure whether that would translate into a win. They deserve all the credit. No one has grown any taller or jumps any higher. They are concerned with winning. If we can do that the rest of the way, we will have a chance.
“They had to handle things being said the other way and they handled that correctly. Now they have to handle things in the other direction. It’s all part of being a man and understanding who you are.
“What has happened in the past is in the past. That has no bearing on the next game.”
“I’m very fortunate to have the chance to coach a guy like Vincent Hunter. He understands what’s going on and he knows what value I find in him.”