FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play on Saturday when No. 8 Alabama visits Bud Walton Arena for a 1:05 p.m. game being televised by Lincoln Financial Sports. Arkansas is 11-3 following Tuesday’s 68-59 win over Tulsa. Alabama is 13-1. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“I’ll say this about the SEC, they throw you right into the fire. They don’t let you get warmed up or ease into play. They let you lace them up and play.
“Alabama is better than they were last year. Mykal Riley is a threat and (Alonzo) Gee is improved. We’re excited about playing. We’ve had some great games with them, and we feel like we’re playing better and better.
“Now that we’re in SEC play, there are three things we have to do. We have to take care of the ball, rebound and make free throws. Our rebounding has slipped. We need to get that back, but in two of those three, we’ve been solid.
“We’ll have to play our tails off. I like the way we practiced today.
“Between Alabama and Florida, at every position, there is no weakness. With Ronald Steele, Jermareo Davidson and Richard Hendrix, along with the other two, they have double-figure scorers at every position.
“I think we are one of the few teams that at least has the size to make things difficult for them.”
“I didn’t like the way we finished the game. We were not as efficient as we needed to be. We can’t have lulls.”
“I don’t want to make a mountain out of it. I’ve known Darian for three or four years. I know what his strengths are and that he lets his emotions go high. He is really a good kid. You guys see that scowl, but when we talked, I saw a kid carrying a lot of emotion. He was embarrassed and he apologized to his teammates and the coaches.
“For me, that’s ‘D.’ He really is genuinely a good kid. In his mind, he can’t believe he snapped like that. He came out and practiced his butt off today. He missed most of the Tulsa game. That’s a
huge deal, and we’ve handled some other things internally to make sure he knows that was unacceptable.
“He was the player of the game in the game before that (Louisiana Tech), so it’s not like he’s played poorly. That wasn’t the first time I’ve jumped on him or any of my guys. I will still continue to challenge him and I think he wants me to. I will still get on him and all the guys.”
“This is a game, matchup wise, where we can play Charles at the small forward. We want Charles to play a little more away from the basket, especially as we get into SEC play, but I don’t want to change too much because he’s having a heck of a season.”
“We’re giving up too much dribble penetration. Players inside are rotating and there’s a player on that side getting rebounds. If we can stop the penetration, we can clean that up. We’re also forcing a lot more turnovers, so our rebounding numbers are not as high.”
“I’m not disappointed at all. We had a very strong schedule. There are some teams that don’t leave their arena. We could have been 13-0 or 14-0. I know how to schedule that way. We had some bumps on the road, but we have some good wins, too. Any time you have 10 or 11 wins heading into conference play, you’ve done a good job.”