FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays host to Georgia on Wednesday in a game pushed back to an 8:05 start to accommodate ESPNU television. The Razorbacks are 12-5 overall and 1-2 in the SEC while the Bulldogs are 10-5 and 2-1. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“We went pretty hard today. We made practice physical and intense at a high level. Our team has got to get used to what we think we’ll be in for the rest of the year.
“Georgia is probably the most improved team in the league. Their backcourt is experienced with Levi Stukes, Mike Mercer, Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey. They shoot the ball very well in transition. The addition of some frontcourt players has made them more balanced. Dave Bliss and Steve Newman, it seems like they’ve both been there seven or eight years.
“Mercer, Stukes and Gaines might be the fastest backcourt we’ve faced. The have speed and quickness. They all have the ability to put the ball on the floor and can make shots in transition.
“They push the ball a lot harder than they did last year. Transition defense and defending threes are the two biggest things we need to do defensively, plus rebounding.
“This is an important game. We need to protect our home court and get our confidence back.”
Gary Ervin (ankle):
“He could not go today. He tried a few layups and that was it. We want Gary to be healthy, but it forced us to get other guys involved (in practice) and that may not be so bad. If Gary can’t play, Sean (McCurdy) or Patrick (Beverley) would play point guard.
“Tuesday is the pivotal day. If he can’t practice, I wouldn’t expect him to play at all. He’s disappointed in the way he played on Saturday and wants to be out there. If he’s 60 to 70 percent on Tuesday, he could be 70 to 80 percent on Wednesday.”
Ole Miss game – last second shots:
“We went the wrong direction. Gary’s driving was an option, not the primary option, but we were not in the right area of the court we should have been. It did not get executed the way we work on it every day in practice. Gary veered off. That happens. We’ll get better and learn from it. The game is played at a high speed. Sometimes you see things that you think give you a better option.”
Stefan Welsh and Patrick Beverley playing together:
“Defensively, they both do a good job. Today they both tried to get into a rhythm and flow, and they learned a lot.”
“We have a lot of basketball in front of us. The West is wild. We dropped two games and we’re only a game out of first. We need to make up a win somewhere down the road where it may be a little unexpected.
“We need to totally eliminate the taste we just had (from the Ole Miss game). We need to be an angry team when we step on the floor.”
“He could be very valuable for us if he gets his confidence back up and plays solid basketball. He could play extended minutes. A lot of it is being confident and comfortable. Sometimes you try to do too much.”
Playing on the road:
“The road is hard for everybody. Maturity has a lot to do with success on the road. We haven’t been abysmal. We’ve been right there, but not good enough. Our team last year was a good road team. It took a while, but we grew up a lot. This team has played very well. That one stop or one score has abandoned us. I don’t think we had a poor performance at Florida. I think we’re really close, even though we’ve had a few setbacks. Our defense will keep us there.”