Rivalry Renewed

Mike Anderson

Arkansas (9-4) will visit Texas A&M (10-3) Wednesday night at 8 p.m. in a game that will serve as the Aggies' first-ever SEC game and one in which Razorback coach Mike Anderson will be trying to get a first of his own.

One "first" is going to happen for sure on Wednesday night in College Station.

Either new league member Texas A&M and head coach Billy Kennedy will win its first ever SEC game or Arkansas' Mike Anderson will get his first ever win over the Aggies as a head coach.

Anderson is 0-6 against Texas A&M as a head coach at UAB and Missouri – although he was an assistant on the Razorback teams that dominated the Aggies back in the latter days of the SWC.

"I happened to be on the staff at A&M when Arkansas played A&M in Reunion Arena," Kennedy said while recalling the SWC Tournaments. "It wasn't a great experience for me. That's when (former Arkansas head) Coach (Nolan) Richardson had them going and beat us pretty bad."

Anderson was part of that staff, but was not able to top the Aggies while head coach at Missouri despite great success with the Tigers.

"It's a new year, it's a new challenge, a new team," Anderson said while brushing off the mark. "I won't be looking at records, I'm looking at what's taking place in the game coming up on Wednesday night. To me, that's the most important thing is to go and get our team prepared and go play and have fun and play to win."

The Aggies (10-3) will host the Razorbacks (9-4) in an 8 p.m. game televised on ESPNU from Reed Arena - a place Arkansas has never played and one that has been opened since 1998 after 44 previous years of playing in G. Rollie White Coliseum.

"It's a good atmosphere," Anderson said. "A good atmosphere vs. G. Rollie White, the building we used to play in. It's a nice facility. And of course (Arkansas assistant coach) Melvin Watkins was there as a coach once they built the building. I think he played in it as well. But it's a place they've played well this year. They've only lost one game. I think Southern stole one out of there. They've protected their home turf."

Texas A&M has averaged less than 5,000 fans per home game this season as it heads into the game with Arkansas, who is riding a five-game win streak.

"We need an environment at home to rev us up and hopefully get us to play at the highest level possible," Kennedy said. "I think this Arkansas team is different that some of those teams of the past. They play 12 guys and are more experienced with B.J. Young and Marshawn Powell and they have role identification. Coach Anderson's system is in place. We will need every ounce of effort from our fans and players to win this game."

The Aggies are about where Kennedy expected them to be this season except for the aforementioned home loss to Southern 53-51 back on Dec. 22.

He has just eight scholarship players to face the Razorbacks.

"The number one challenge is depth, not playing certain guys too many minutes so we have guys fresh at the end of the game and that is a challenge against a good Arkansas team with a lot of depth" Kennedy said.

"Overall, we are 10-3, there is probably one game we wish would have gotten the Southern game at home or we would have maxed out," Kennedy added. "We haven't played the schedule that Arkansas has played, either. We played a favorable schedule and fortunately we have won most of our games."

O o o

Arkansas will be at full strength for Wednesday night's game as junior forward Coty Clarke has returned to Fayetteville after returning home to tend to a family emergency.

That family emergency forced him to miss the Razorbacks' 86-51 win over Delaware State on Saturday night, but he was back at practice on Monday.

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