FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play on Saturday with the 7 p.m. game at Mississippi State. The game is being televised by FSN. The Razorbacks enter league play at 11-2 while MSU is 10-3. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“The way I look at it, playing in Bud Walton Arena is a tremendous advantage. We have great fans, we’re in a comfort zone and there’s a lot of energy in this building. That is the advantage of a home game. In terms of true road games, we’ve played Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland and Texas Tech away from our building. Playing away from your building is an away game. I’m looking at playing away from here combined with the quality of opponent we’ve played. My point is we have prepared ourselves very well to play on the road. That said, the story will be told Saturday.
“Mississippi State lost a lot, but they picked up a lot. They have Jamont Gordon, Reginald Delk and other talented young players. They will be excited. The first part of the game, they will probably make a big push. I believe over the course of 40 minutes, we have a good chance of getting out of there with a victory, but it’s going to take a great effort.”
More on MSU:
“They run more and do more to utilize their guards where traditionally they have pounded it inside. Their offense used to be about 80 percent inside. Now, I see it 60-40 in favor of guard play.
“Jamall Edmondson has to be put in situations where he is uncomfortable. We have to know where he is because he’s a guy who can really get it going. He is the leader and they look to him, and he’s responded.”
Point guard play:
“Dontell (Jefferson) does exactly what I feel we need out there. He distributes the ball, gets it to the right guy and his defense is very underrated. He’s played smaller guys and bigger guys. He has quick feet. He and Eric Ferguson are a dynamic tandem when it comes to defending people at the point guard spot. He has given us solid play from that position. Sean McCurdy has come along very well, too. They compliment each other. We’re getting good play there.”
“Mississippi State has been playing zone about 80 percent of the time. That has been their No. 1 defense through the whole non-conference season. I’m looking forward to it. I think our players like playing against zones. I know Ronnie Brewer does because he doesn’t get face-guarded.”
“We’ve challenged our guards to rebound and he’s responded well. Some of his rebounds, especially against Texas Tech, were big. We need that. We will have to fight to keep (MSU) off the boards.”
“He’s fine. He’s probably had his best practices lately. He’s been hitting his in-between shots and he seems to be cutting a lot harder.”
Gary Ervin (transfer guard from MSU who is sitting out this year):
“He has this confidence about himself and I’m sure he’s talked to his teammates (about the game). He’s one guy we don’t have to prepare against. In the past, Lawrence Roberts was the first guy (we talked about), but the next guy was Gary because he pushed the ball so hard.”