FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays host to Oral Roberts on Saturday at 2:05 in a non-televised game. The Razorbacks are 5-1 following Wednesday’s 94-91 victory over Missouri. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media to preview Saturday’s game. Following is a partial transcript of his press conference.
“We told our guys we are proud of them for hanging in there. It took a lot of heart and courage. They got challenged and they kept trying to respond. We knew there would be a lot of ups and downs and swings in the game, and there were.
“It was good to get a win against a quality opponent. Who knows what that win can do fur us later in terms of the post-season.
“We had to execute on the defensive end and it was good to see some guys step up to the free throw line and make them when we needed it.
“It’s just one win; it doesn’t count as two. At midnight, it was over. Now it’s time to get ready for ORU. I’m happy with what happened last night, but now it’s time to focus on ORU.”
“Last year they were in the NCAA Tournament. Scott (Sutton) has done a great, great job. He and his family are very important to me. They played here last year, so they are familiar with the environment. They won last year at Kansas.
“They are a confident bunch. They’ve been in this situation. They’ve already played at Texas A&M. They are used to winning at a high level.
“They will try to take advantage of the three-point line and on the break. In the past, they’ve had good balance. We have to expect the unknown. We will have to play well to win.
“I know Scott very well. Scott did not want to coach. At least that was what he said (when Pelphrey was a restricted earnings coach at Oklahoma State). He’s good. He has a lot of the same qualities as Coach Sutton. He was a great, great player. He was the only player on the team that could get the ball inside to Bryant Reeves. He could shoot the ball a little bit and he had some toughness to him.”
“We want to be aggressive and attack on both ends of the floor. I don’t think we can duplicate the pace (Missouri) creates, but there are a lot of similarities. We like to drive the ball, extend the floor defensively and get to the free throw line. We’re not going to play anybody the rest of the year that plays that fast.”
“I didn’t envision 23 turnovers (against Missouri), ever. Those are called nightmares. I would like to force 21 and for us to have 12. I think we started seeing guys doing fundamental things – diving on the floor and handling traps. Our attitude was in a place where we had a chance. When we lost the lead, we could have easily separated and let it go. The way things turned out, we still could have lost.
“The biggest thing, as far as turnovers, was Missouri. Next is focus and making simple plays. It’s a two-way street, too. Sometimes the guy making the pass and the guy receiving the pass are not on the same page.
“I think we are an unselfish bunch, but we have to get better. We tend to hold onto the ball too long in the halfcourt.”
Shooting 50 percent as a team:
“That is a little surprising. I hesitate to compliment our defense because it still isn’t where it should be, but we’re good enough to hold people to a low percentage and get some easy baskets.”
“He has responded very well. He’s played well. He’s given us a boost in the last three games coming off the bench. Against Missouri, he played extended minutes and he only had one turnover. He’s made progress toward doing whatever he can to give the team a chance to win.”