FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas travels to Lexington this weekend for Sunday’s noon (central) game against Kentucky. The game is nationally televised by CBS. Arkansas is 14-5 overall and 3-3 in the SEC following Wednesday’s 71-58 win over Ole Miss. UK is 13-6 and 3-2 following Tuesday’s 71-62 victory at Auburn. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“This is a pivotal game. Both teams started slow, have recovered and are now playing their best basketball of the year. It’s an exciting game. We matchup well. When I look at Kentucky, I still see three McDonald’s All-Americans.
“Randolph Morris has taken a while to get going, Patrick Sparks is shooting well, Joe Crawford is playing well and Rajon Rondo has been steady all year. He’s the glue to their team. Morris has been solid. He’s a great offensive player.
“For us, Jonathon Modica is playing his best basketball, Charles Thomas is playing well, Ronnie Brewer and Darian Townes are solid and Steven Hill has been rock solid inside defensively. We need to get Eric Ferguson going.
“Kentucky is a hot and cold team. We have to keep them cold and don’t let the three-ball be effective for them. We have to handle their pressure. We have to dominate the paint. Our front line needs to have a big night.
“This is a big game. Since I’ve been here, this is as evenly matched with Kentucky as we’ve been. I think our fans and even the media get excited about Kentucky. I think it’s a marquee game on everybody’s schedule.”
“I think there is tremendous parity in our league. There’s not a major discrepancy. At different positions we have an advantage and at different positions they have an advantage. It comes down to the benches. We have to be prepared because they are a different team from when they had those setbacks in their first two conference games.”
“His defense is very underrated. Look at the numbers he’s put up against great players. Glen Davis (LSU) was five-of-19 (12 points), Jermareo Davidson (Alabama) was six-of-18 and Dwayne Curtis (Ole Miss), who had been averaging 18.5 points, was four-of-12.
“We give him some help, but not a ton. And that doesn’t mention what he does to alter shots from other guys. He deserves a lot of credit.”
Two-game winning streak:
“Winning makes you feel good. We’re excited that we’ve put ourselves back in a decent position. Kentucky is not an easy place to play or win, but the opportunity is the best it’s been.”
“Our game is the interior. Darian Townes and Charles Thomas get their share of touches and Jonathon Modica has been going inside. Steven Hill deserves more touches because he’s been effective and he’s good at passing out of the post.”
“Boards will be a key, and ball possession, too. We have to do a good job defensive rebounding so we don’t give them second chances.”
“He could be a key. He’s older, experienced and he’s played in Rupp Arena before, but who knows. Sean McCurdy may be able to come in and Dontell Jefferson may be able to weather the storm.”