FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas closes its regular-season home schedule on Saturday with a 5 p.m. contest against Auburn. The game is being televised by ESPN Classic. The Razorbacks are 19-10 overall and 8-7 in the SEC. The Tigers are 14-14 overall and 4-11. The game is the final regular-season home appearance for seniors Gary Ervin, Steven Hill, Vincent Hunter, Charles Thomas, Darian Townes and Sonny Weems. Following is a partial transcript from head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“This is our last game. It’s also the last home game for six seniors, their last game in Bud Walton Arena. It’s coming to an end and I’m sure it will be emotional, especially with family and friends here. As bad as it is to come out too low, you don’t want them to come out too high.”
“The first time, we could not guard them man-to-man. We had to play zone. They can shoot from five spots. Quan Prowell might be the best pro prospect in our league. He had 20 in the first half against Mississippi State.
“We had a hard time getting our size into the game down there. We had good plays against the zone, but we also fouled a lot. Charles Thomas may have played the best of our frontcourt players.
“They will play well. The first time we played, they had lost some people and were still figuring out some things, but now they know where their shots are coming from.
Senior Day for Pelphrey:
“It was a day for me I was completely dreading. I knew as a redshirt freshman that day was coming. It was very emotional for me and my family. I had an awful first half, but was much better in the second and fortunately we won the game.”
Arkansas’ six seniors:
“Our guys need to go out and play as hard as they can. They need to play to play, and be a good teammate to the guy next to them. If they do that, they will be fine.
“I’m very appreciative of all the efforts these young men have made. They’ve been through a lot. Gary and Sonny were at other places before they got here, but the journey has been long. I’m appreciative of them allowing us to coach them. There have been some positives and some negatives, that’s the way it goes with a team, but they will always be Razorbacks and will be welcome around here.
“This staff will continue to be tireless in its efforts to create memories for those young men.”
“Darian has done fine, he really has. I’ve enjoyed coaching Darian and I hope he’s played better his senior year than he did his first three years. He’s been playing well offensively. He needs to continue improving his defense and rebounding. His greatest strength is probably scoring the ball.
“The guys have done a good job spacing and getting him the ball.”
“He’s come a long way. He’s become more coachable and a better teammate, and he’s worked on a daily basis. I’m not saying he wasn’t coachable or a good teammate before, but that is a very important spot and he’s showed improvement.”
“Anything I saw would be just another opinion on the pile. My focus is on Auburn. I have six young men counting on me.
“I believe games are won on the court. Nobody really cares about what I think. Unless we perform, it doesn’t matter. Beating Auburn will be our biggest challenge of the year along with managing the emotions of six seniors. We have plenty to be motivated about.”
Ole Miss game:
“We had our chances, again. We came up short when it counted – getting an offensive rebound, a couple of turnovers, or when you get your shot, the ability to knock it down. There were five or six plays that were probably the difference in the game. It was similar to the Kentucky game.”
“He has made tough shots. He’s made us all believe he can make shots others can’t.”
Playing at home:
“It’s a false sense of security. In any game we’ve won, it’s been due to tremendous effort. The biggest help for us and hindrance for our opponents has been our fans. I can’t tell you how much help that has been. We need that again on Saturday.”