FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas travels to Lexington for a 1 p.m. (central) game against Kentucky on Saturday. The game is being nationally televised by CBS Sports. The Razorbacks are 18-7 overall and 7-4 in the SEC following Wednesday’s 87-61 win over LSU. Kentucky is 14-10 and 8-3. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“Kentucky is obviously doing very, very well. They are undefeated at home in the SEC and they’ve done something no one else in the league has been able to do – beat Tennessee. Billy Gillispie is doing an outstanding job. It’s always difficult when you take over a program. Their injuries have been well documented, but they are as hot as any team in our league.
“Ramel Bradley is experienced and can shoot the ball from the three-point line. He doesn’t get fazed by anything. He keeps showing up. He and Joe Crawford are good shooters.
“Throughout the course of a season, everybody has losses that shouldn’t happen. We all have those. I think (UK) was getting adjusted to a new coach, they had injuries and they had a short turnaround between games.
“Anytime there is a change, it takes time for players to adjust. It can be a quick or a slow transition for a coach just like it can be for a freshman.”
Going back to Kentucky:
“There will be a lot of emotion for me when we get back in the building. I’m sure a lot of memories will come flooding back. I went in and out of the back of that building a lot as a player. Once the game starts, I will focus on the task at hand.
“I was fortunate to play there. There are always distractions – if the team isn’t good enough, if there’s a coaching change and I was there for the probation. We were forced to deal with a lot of things. I have a lot of faults, but being able to focus is not one of them.
“I think the people there will be warm toward me. I don’t think they are going to wish me ill will 29 times a year, but I understand on this particular day where their allegiance will be. I was a fan one time, too, so I’m okay with that.”
Jersey number (No. 34) retired:
“That’s the greatest honor ever given. As a Kentucky kid, you want to figure out how to contribute in some way. You don’t think you’ll ever be THE guy and you never think you’ll get your jersey retired. That’s the greatest honor there is.
“There are a lot of players, much better than I was, who haven’t had their jersey retired. It’s kind of embarrassing. It’s the same with the (UK) Hall of Fame.
“We had to make sure we weren’t remembered as the guys who were there when Kentucky wasn’t any good.”
“I even had to ask my Dad a series of questions to know where he is before I gave him a ticket.”
First Arkansas-Kentucky game, as a player in 1992:
“I think it was the first SEC game. It was an awesome atmosphere. We knew how good Arkansas was. Nolan Richardson went to a zone in the second half. Back then you had the 45-second shot clock. Arkansas spread the floor and we all ended up with the wrong guys. I ended up on Lee Mayberry. He went right by me for a layup and the score ended up being lopsided.”
“We are fortunate to be one game back in the West. This is another opportunity to go out on the road and compete at a high level for 40 minutes. We’ve done it on occasion. Coming down the stretch, wins are incredibly important. First place on our side is still possible.”
“I have confidence in Vince. I appreciate him. He gets it. He’s a team guy. He’s about the Razorbacks. I think that young man has it figured it.”
“He has been playing very well. I can’t emphasize how we need Gary and Stefan Welsh to play well the rest of the way. Gary has been more efficient. He’s been coachable. He’s starting to go at the basket and do what we want to do in terms of finding players. He also does a good job of getting to the free throw line.”