FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas travels to LSU for a 7 p.m. game on Wednesday. The game is being televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports. The Razorbacks are 15-6 overall and 4-4 in the SEC following Saturday’s 73-59 victory over South Carolina. LSU is 15-6 overall and 7-1 in conference play after Saturday’s 67-62 loss at Alabama. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“LSU is the most talented team in the league. They have a tremendous front line and Darrel Mitchell is having a phenomenal year. It’s a big task. We’ve played well on the road, but our challenge is to play well for 40 minutes. We have to put ourselves in a position to win and then win it, whether it’s with free throws, a defensive stop, key rebounds or making a big shot.
“The game will be decided in the paint. Rebounding is huge and interior defense is big. Our guys have to set the tone. They have to be up to the task. We have to be physical and play smart. We need Steven Hill to stay in the game, we need Charles Thomas to come in and bring his energy and we need Vincent Hunter.
“Darrel Mitchell is on fire. I’ve always thought he was a clutch performer. We have to give him a lot of attention and try to take him out of his rhythm.”
“Our team is growing a lot. As a group, the players met and talked about staying together, playing well and winning. Every game, I know playing time is important and I say I want to play this guy or that guy and it doesn’t always work out, but if we win, I’m happy. It’s a hard thing, but if you’re focused on the big picture, things take care of themselves. Understanding roles is a big factor.”
“I love his effort every day in practice. He’s a warrior. He goes after balls and he’s strong inside. He’s a typical freshman. He has a lot to learn. I think he’s ready to go. His rebounding is important. I love his attitude. He says he’s going to prove to me he’s ready to play and earn it.”
“He’s faced a lot of defenses. His numbers are on pace with where they were early in his career. He scored so well (37 against South Carolina) because he worked his butt off moving. He cut off screens and got himself open.”
“He responded. He had six rebounds in a short amount of time and he got a lot of them late. I’m hopeful he understands we need him on the glass. I’m pleased he came back and showed me he can rebound, that he’s not just about scoring and getting shots. He can do other things to help the team.”
Late season runs:
“At this point in the season, things tend to snowball one way or the other. If players are in a rhythm, this is the time to get on a roll and build momentum. The focus has to be on winning. It can’t be about minutes or getting shots.”
Last year’s game at LSU:
“You have to play forward, not in reverse. I don’t mind if that gives us a little edge, but I don’t want that to be our focus.”
“He anchors our defense. It seems like every time he leaves the floor, the lack of his presence is felt. We have to find ways to keep him on the floor. It’s a learning experience he’s going through and he’s better than he was last year. In fairness, he’s going against some guys who are really, really good.”