Arkansas coach John Pelphrey and Texas A&M bench boss Mark Turgeon lauded praise on each other's teams ahead of the Razorbacks (7-1) and the No. 25 Aggies (9-1) meeting at 1 p.m. inside American Airlines Center.
"A&M is an outstanding team," Pelphrey said. "We are really going to have to play very well. We are going to have to be outstanding with our rebounding and our defense and tough and physical as well on our offense with screening and some player movement to create ball movement. We will have to be able to finish some plays and do it for a 40-minute time period.
"This is a really good basketball team right now," Pelphrey added of the Razorbacks' old Southwest Conference rival. "One of the best in the country."
"Arkansas is athletic and deeper," Turgeon said. "Their best player (Marshawn Powell) is getting healthy. Rotnei Clarke can really shoot it and stretch the defense. They force 19 turnovers a game which, as you know, we haven't done a good job of taking care of the basketball. They are scoring at a good pace. They're having a fantastic year so far, and it'll be a real challenge for us."
Turgeon was not happy to see that Clarke – who is the Razorbacks' leading scorer – went scoreless on Wednesday night in an 87-64 win over Mississippi Valley State.
"I don't like that," Turgeon said. "I wish he had had 30 last night. I don't like to have him coming off a bad night when you play against him."
Turgeon feels like his team will get the best Arkansas has to offer because A&M is now a ranked team.
"We are ranked because we were fortunate enough to beat (visiting) Washington (63-62)," Turgeon said. "But we are nowhere near where we want to be right now. I know when we play a team with a number by their name we get more excited so I am sure Arkansas will be fired up being 7-1 and with a chance to beat a so-called ranked team. I know we are going to get their best shot."
The Arkansas-A&M game will be followed by Baylor taking on Gonzaga so four different fan bases will be on hand.
"I think since it's a doubleheader the environment will be better," Turgeon said. "I'm sure there will be a lot of Baylor fans there also and Arkansas will bring a lot of fans. I'm sure the atmosphere will be better. There's a lot going on with our fans right now with the Cotton Bowl. We'll see what happens."
Pelphrey hopes that the Razorbacks will have plenty of fans turn out in a city where they use to dominate the Southwest Conference tournament.
"We are all well aware of the rich history there of the Razorbacks and the Southwest Conference," Pelphrey said. "Our fans have been so noticeable there that they were re-naming Reunion Arena Barnhill South," Pelphrey said. "That's exciting for us."