FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas plays Georgia on Thursday at 8:45 p.m. (Central) in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in the Gaylord Entertainment Center at Nashville, Tenn. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“The biggest thing to get across to our team is that this is the start of a new season. You win or you go home.
“I know we’ll see a better Georgia team than we just saw, but I also don’t think we did some things as well as we can, like our inside play, for instance.
“I want us to go in with a since of urgency and make plays.
“I talked to Steven Hill and Darian Townes after the game. Going inside is not one of our strengths. Big guys need to be involved. They need touches. If they don’t get them, they may not rebound as well or give you that third effort you want.
“The last game was physical and emotions ran a little high. I’m not sure our big guys expected that. I know Charles Thomas didn’t care. I asked them and they said it didn’t bother them. If you had seen our practices Saturday and Friday, you would have thought you were going to see something special. Georgia may have tried to shake us up a little, but that’s something we have to be smart about.
“I know their guards are good players. They are very capable of stepping up and making things happen. If we’re focused, really defending and moving our feet, we can disrupt them. But we have to make sure we play at that energy level.”
“I like the way the conference draws up the bracket because you play the East once during the year so this is only the second time you’re playing your first-round opponent instead of the third.
Jonathon Modica and Eric Ferguson:
“Their play has stepped up down the stretch. Eric’s play, with the minutes he gets, combined with Ronnie Brewer handling the ball more, has really lifted the team for us. Eric and Jonathon have taken the team on their shoulders and responded well.”
Difference between this year’s team and the others Heath has taken to the SEC Tournament:
“We’re better and older. You have to have players. We’re just older and better – that’s all there is to it. We’ve matured. The team is better, we’re prepared and we know we can play with and beat anybody. We also know if we don’t show up to play, we can be beaten.
“I don’t think anybody is a clear-cut favorite this year.”
Top 25 poll (UA is No. 26):
“That doesn’t make any difference. The poll doesn’t matter to me. I’ve seen some teams with eight or nine losses and they never leave (the rankings). Sometimes I think it’s a popularity contest.
“The bottom line is you want to get into the NCAA Tournament.”