FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following three straight home games and four consecutive wins, Arkansas hits the road with a game at No. 4 Tennessee on Wednesday. The game is at 7:05 p.m. (Central) and will be televised by Raycom Sports. The Volunteers are 21-2 overall, 8-1 in the SEC and ranked No. 1 in the RPI rankings. The Razorbacks are 17-5 overall and 6-2 in the SEC following Saturday’s win over Ole Miss. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“We’re halfway through. I’m pleased with the last four games. Winning is what you want to do. We have a tough challenge the rest of the way with five of eight on the road.”
“Tennessee has been outstanding this season and very deserving of everything they’ve been getting. They have Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Tyler Smith, Ramar Smith, Duke Crews and Wayne Chism, and they have depth. They play 10 guys and they are extremely well-coached.
The environment will be special. We need to play our best game of the year. The environment will be a factor in the game, but the game will be decided by the five guys we have on the court and the five they have.
“Lofton is the best that has ever played in this league at making three-point shots. You can’t argue with that. That’s a fact.
“We need to defend them and limit them to one shot. They are really good at stealing the ball. They are great with their hands and very, very aggressive. They jump the passing lanes and play hard.
“We need to defend and rebound, go inside and offensive rebound. We’re not going to try to change a whole lot. We have to make sure we don’t settle for a lot of jump shots. I don’t know if we can overcome some of the quick shots we took the other night on the road.”
“We have to play defense, rebound and offensively take care of the ball. Those three things stand out in every game, and that’s at home. It’s not any different on the road. We have to take care of the ball. They close out the passing lanes.
“Gary (Ervin) and Stefan (Welsh) need to play well, smart and hard. They need to be efficient, and we need a lot of communication and teamwork. It certainly starts with those two, but that needs to run throughout the team.”
Style of play:
“I don’t want to change our pace, play slower or get cautious. We need to get out, get easy baskets and get fouls, but if we don’t get what we want, we need to back it out and make them work.”
“We may fling it out there and see what happens. We’ve played some in every game. In either man or zone, we have to be mindful of Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.”
“I think the whole team has changed. Nobody is faster or taller, and no one has been added to the team. The guys have a different mindset. If you try to pick it apart, we’ve been a team. We’ve played harder, dove on the floor and been better at encouraging our teammates.
“Three of the last four have been at home. Now we have to go on the road. What we’ve done has been good, but now it has to go to another level.
“The things we’ve done don’t guarantee a victory, but they’ve given us a chance.”