FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas travels to Texas for an 8 p.m. contest on Wednesday, which is being nationally televised by ESPN2. The Razorbacks are 8-2 this season while the Longhorns are 7-2. This is the first meeting between the two since Arkansas’ final season in the Southwest Conference – 1991. Following is a partial transcript of head coach Stan Heath’s press conference.
“We’re definitely ready to take the floor and prove that our last performance (against Texas Tech) was atypical. We need better guard play, fewer mistakes and more movement. Defensively, we can’t give up big percentages.
“Kevin Durant is so good. Watching him play and how easy he makes it look, we don’t have a true matchup for him. We’ll have to try different things. We all have to be cognizant of where he is.
“Texas is not a one-man team. In addition to Durant, we need to pay attention to A.J. Abrams, D.J. Augustin and others. They present a difficult matchup. With Durant, you’re looking at five perimeter players on the floor. We have to play defense like we’re guarding perimeter players. A key is not only playing for 40 minutes, but how we start the game. We have to get back in transition defense.
“Texas really pushes the ball. We have to control the tempo. We have to use our big guys. We need to look to fast break but also know when it’s not there.”
Texas Tech game:
“We didn’t handle position switching. We didn’t cut or go back-door. Those are things we have gone over before, but the players are much more prepared to play against that. I think we can now better counteract that defense by scoring.
“Several guys were standing. Why, I don’t know. That was the first time I’ve seen us stand around like that. As I said before, I’ll chalk that up to an atypical performance.
“It happened (scoring drought at the beginning of the game). We’re disappointed, but on three occasions, we had the lead cut to eight and had shots to cut it to either five or six. We fought our way back into it and Charles Thomas was a warrior. I’m going to throw the first five or six minutes of that game out the window.”
“I want Sonny to take more good shots. I want him to recognize a good shot and when to take it. We’re a better team when he’s aggressive offensively. He’s still getting adjusted, like all of our perimeter players. I have to have more patience, but at some point in time, these guys have to play. Like all newcomers, things they could get away with at their previous level, they can’t get away with at this level.”
“Gary needs to play better and we need better play at that position (point guard) as a whole. Sean McCurdy will get more of an opportunity and Patrick Beverley may play there as well. That position has not been a strength for us. Gary has had a tendency to get into trouble. If he can learn from his mistakes, he can be a valuable asset. I want them to make the easy passes and the easy play.”
“There’s been a 15-year void since Arkansas and Texas have played. A lot of the kids (on both teams) were born in 1986 or ’87, so they have no recollection of the rivalry. I want our guys to be aware of it because I don’t want them to be surprised by the crowd. Just because the players don’t know about the history doesn’t mean a lot of fans at the game will not be into it.”