FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Following two straight road games, Arkansas returns home this week when the Razorbacks play host to LSU at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday in a game televised by Raycom Sports. Arkansas is 17-7 overall and second in the SEC’s Western Division at 6-4. LSU is 9-15 overall and 2-8. Following is a partial transcript of head coach John Pelphrey’s press conference previewing the game.
“This is another opportunity, another week. Last week was challenging. We were not able to play well enough to get a win in either game. This is a new week and we have the chance to play at home, which is a positive.
“LSU’s first five is plenty good enough to play in the SEC. They didn’t have Chris Johnson the first time we played. He’s a shot blocker and he can step outside and shoot the three. That lightens the load for Marcus Thornton and Anthony Randolph.
“This game is very similar to the first time we played. We were in desperate need of playing well and we’re in desperate need now.
“We have to defend Randolph and Thornton. Johnson is unique at the center spot. He’s capable of hitting three, four or five threes. We also have to be mindful of Terry Martin and we have tremendous respect for Garrett Temple with all the experience he has on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we need to be able to attack up front at the basket first.
“The game will be hard fought. We need to play our best game and have our best focus. They are a different team from the one we played before. We need our fans.”
Changes at LSU (Butch Pierre replacing John Brady as head coach):
“Their team is close. They had some adversity and with Coach Brady not there, that has brought them closer. I thought they were close when we played them before. They are much better than they are in the standings. LSU is fighting, scratching and clawing, and I’m not surprised by that.”
Difference in going 0-2 last week at No. 4 Tennessee and Mississippi State, and going 0-2 earlier against South Carolina and Georgia:
“We’re more of a team today than we were then. Neither one of those games last week was lost from a lack of effort or competing. We knew last week would be challenging, and you have to give those teams credit for that.”
“He played very well in a difficult environment (at MSU). His focus was good. If you get good point guard play, it usually puts you in a situation to have a chance. He’s playing better. We want him to use his speed. He’s making good decisions with that.”
“You never know (when they will be ready). You hope, but you never know. That transition period can be long. If they were ready, I would put them in there, trust me.”
Extended minutes for Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverley:
“They need to play as hard as they can for as long as they can.”
Foul trouble for Charles Thomas:
“He’s been guarding some pretty good people. He had Tyler Smith (Tennessee), Charles Rhodes (MSU) and Jarvis Varnado (MSU). He needs to stop fouling.
“He’s had some good plays and some bad plays. He needs to be consistent and take what the defense gives us. He’s good enough to play at a high level in this league.”
“We got our defense into the game in the second half (at MSU). We weren’t able to do that in the first half. We never got it into the game at all at Tennessee. For us, I believe that’s where it starts. Steve is a good player. It doesn’t surprise me when he plays well or takes our defense to another level.”