FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas travels to Knoxville this weekend for Saturday’s noon (central) game at Tennessee. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“We have to try to keep our momentum going. Tennessee is a great team. They are having a special season. With the chemistry they have, they keep getting better and better. The key is it will be a battle of possessions. We have to make sure we don’t turn it over too much and that we rebound. We have to go there like we’re on a mission.
“We have the fourth-best scoring margin on the road in the SEC this year, but those numbers don’t add up to wins. We’ve played well and tough on the road, but we have to get over the hump.
“Tennessee has the best backcourt in the league. They are highly skilled. C.J. Watson and Chris Lofton can both pass, they have a high basketball I.Q. and they compliment each other. C.J. makes them go. He makes good decisions, gets a lot of steals and he’s having a great senior season.
“Chris Lofton stretches the defense. You have to know where he is. He makes shots with you in his face about as much as when he’s alone. He moves very well without the ball and he doesn’t need a lot of time to get the ball off.
“Watson will do what he does, but in big games, Lofton has had 25-to-30-plus points. He’s a guy that makes a lot of clutch shots. He takes them to another level when he gets going. Dane Bradshaw has also stepped up for them. Our matchups will be a key. They have a lot of juniors and seniors that have been through a lot.”
Wins at home over Florida and Alabama:
“We’ve clearly shown that we’re a lot better making defensive and offensive plays down the stretch. We’re doing a much better job now. That confidence and momentum should carry us.”
“The press we have to beat is between the baseline and the three-point line. We don’t want to put it in that danger area. They do a great job, if you have your head down, they do a good job of coming in from behind. They get as many steals, I think, in the half court as they do in full court. If you handle the pressure, you can get some easier shots, but the key is handling the pressure.”
“We’ll go with the same as the last game. Darian is in a pretty good rhythm (coming off the bench). He was huge for us down the stretch (against Alabama).”
This week’s schedule:
“The best thing that happened for us was the day off (on Wednesday). We didn’t play very well against Alabama in the first part of the game. (Wednesday) was a good day for us to get our legs back.”
NCAA bids for the SEC:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt our league deserves six teams. I’m not looking too far ahead because I’m only thinking about our Tennessee game, but there was a question (earlier Thursday) about all of these other leagues. I don’t think people clearly understand how good our league is. We’re the third-ranked conference in the country. We just aren’t top-heavy. There’s not someone that looks like a Final Four team right now, but someone could play their way into that. Instead of being top-heavy, we have a lot of good teams.”