Road Toughness

Arkansas (17-10, 8-6) visits LSU (16-9, 7-7) Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised by SEC Network.

Razorback head basketball coach Mike Anderson keeps saying that the next game on his team's schedule is always the biggest – but in this case it really does seem accurate.

Arkansas (17-10, 8-6) will travel to face LSU (6-9, 7-7) in a match-up of two teams with post-season aspirations in a 7 p.m game in Baton Rouge.

Unlike previous years where the pair played twice, the Tigers and Razorbacks play just once this season with the the SEC's new 18-game schedule and no divisional play.

"The games continue to get bigger and this is a big game for us and LSU," Anderson said. "We have to take the show on the road. Hopefully we can put together two big halves."

Both teams have outside shots at getting to the 68-team NCAA Tournament, but certainly have resumes that could get them into the 32-team NIT event as long as they don't falter down the stretch.

"This game is as big as every other game we have left," Arkansas junior guard Kikko Haydar said. "t's another opportunity, and we're going to approach it like it's our last. We're going to go hard in practice today, and every other day after that."

LSU – which ended Arkansas' season last year in the league tournament - has won seven of its last 10 games and is riding high after a 97-94 triple-overtime home win over Alabama on Saturday.

Arkansas has won five of its last seven contests, but fell 71-54 at No. 4 Florida on Saturday as the Gators got revenge for a shellacking administered by the Razorbacks on Feb. 5 in Fayetteville.

"We are coming off a really good exciting win over Alabama in a three-overtime game I am very glad to see our guys continue to fight and focus," Jones said " We are going into a game Wednesday against a very tough Arkansas team that we know will get after us defensively. They have done a better job of scoring it and shooting the ball of late and making plays. It's a great challenge for us and we are looking forward to it."

The Tigers are led by 6-9, 252-pound sophomore power forward Johnny O'Bryant (14.0, 8.3) – who had 24 points and 10 rebounds against the Crimson Tide - and also have three other players in double figures in 5-11 sophomore Anthony Hickey (11.9), 6-5 junior forward Stavon Coleman (10.9) and 5-9 guard Andre Stringer (10.6).

They also also getting significant production from 6-5 Memphis transfer Charles Carmouche (9.4), who had 20 points and 11 rebounds against Alabama and also have a 7-3, 250-pound center in Andrew Del Piero (4.3, 3.2).

"He is a power kid," Anderson said of Bryant. "Johnny O'Bryant is almost averaging a double-double and gets a lot of offensive rebounds. They have got the floor spread and have got the shooters four out and him in there posting up. Or they bring in the big kid – the seven-footer and try to do some high-low action with him. He is a very good basketball player."

LSU was 9-2 in the non-conference slate, but then started the SEC schedule 0-4 before righting the ship.

"I think even during the four losses they were games we had some challenges," Jones said. "South Carolina came in and played extremely well. We went over and played Auburn, which was a very good team the night we played them and have played extremely hard all year long and really been in some games.

"So even in our setbacks I thought we had growth at times," Jones added. "The good thing is our guys really stayed the course and were up to challenges that we put out here and I think we just continued to get better as a team. We are executing offensively and learning of each other and what's expected of them and making plays. On the defensive end we have continued to get better as far as rotating and being in the right place and making plays." Anderson's team won its first road game at Auburn on Feb. 13 and played well in the first half at Florida last Saturday despite only getting 10 points combined from foul-plagued Marshawn Powell and B.J. Young – the Razorbacks' two leading scorers.

"It makes a big difference," Anderson said. "It is very evident that when Marshawn is not on the floor that we are a different type of team. There are some things that we can get away with at home, but on the road you are talking about a young basketball team and he is your most experienced guy. When he is out there he scored probably the first six or seven points for us (at Florida) and then now all of a sudden he is out of the game because of foul trouble.

"And this time the fouls he got were different than he has been getting – which were the touch fouls," Anderson added. "He got two charges back-to-back. That is where he has got to have an understanding that teams are going to pack their defenses and you have got to be a little bit smarter."

Anderson said he had just talked to Powell – whose 14.7 points per game average is seventh in the SEC - right before Monday's press conference about staying out of foul trouble.

"Constantly," Anderson said. "He and I just got through visiting about that. To me you have to get in the flow of the game and the rhythm of the game and see how they are calling the game. And so that way you can play the game with a lot more smarts. Take back some of those fouls and you would see a lot different game than we had against Florida. But he's learning as we go. We have to have No. 33 on the floor as we go to play LSU.Thats very, very important."

Young – the SEC's fourth-leading scorer at 15.7 - had just three points and no field goals at Florida on Saturday.

"I could have done a better job of scoring and getting the ball in the right positions for other people to make plays ... I just missed, or maybe I wasn't aggressive enough," Young said. "But it happens sometimes.

"I think I'll be fine," Young added. "I just want to involved earler. Try and get some stops early on defense and get some transition buckets to get me going...I was coming off two pretty good games in a row...It's just something that happens every now and again."

Arkansas did get good production from junior forward Coty Clarke (18 points on 8-of-8 field goal shooting and 7 rebounds) and freshman guard Anthlon Bell (14 points).

"...The great part about it is that we saw some bright spots in Anthlon Bell and Coty Clarke really stepping up and looking more and more comfortable with our basketball team," Anderson added. "I think it is really going to pay off big as we go down the stretch. It is going to be important to get some other guys to start contributing especially on the offensive side of the ball."

Bell has now had 31 points in his last two outings after previously scoring just 17 total in the Razorbacks' first 12 SEC games this season.

"He is ready to play now," Anderson said of Bell. "He has had to learn some things throughout the course of the year. But I think he is good enough defensively and he has the basketball intelligence and good instincts, but more importantly he can put the ball in the hole. He can shoot the basketball and he knows how to get the shot.

"That is going to be critical for us because he is a guy that can extend the floor." Anderson said. "We can see he's got range and I am not just necessarily talking about the three-point line, but beyond that. He has got to knock some shots down for us."

Bell has a new nickname – Shoot Soon - according to his teammates.

"We call him ‘Shoot Soon," because he shoots it as soon as he gets in the game," Haydar said while laughing. But that's what he's supposed to do. That's what he's here for."

Anderson would love to see 6-10 Hunter Mickelson get going (6.1, 3.7) – via some anger.

Mickelson had 10 points in an earlier win over Florida and eight the following game against Tennessee, but has just 10 points and five rebounds combined in his last five games.

"I'd like to see Hunter continue to be more assertive," Anderson said. "  I think consistency is probably the word I am looking for Hunter. There are some games where he is a tough matchup. But he's got to play with that aggressiveness that makes him a tough guy to handle out there and he plays with that aggressiveness consistently then a lot of people will really be talking about him.

"Hopefully that is something that will continue to take place," Anderson added. "I think confidence has got to be part of his game. I think Hunter is playing with confidence but I want to see him probably play a little more angry. A little more mad."

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