No Pre-Christmas Gift

Texas Southern (2-7) has only had its full contingent of players together for two games this season and will bring former Kentucky and Texas players - as well as the SWAC Preseason Player of the Year - in to play Arkansas (7-2) Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena.

Normally a 2-7 Southwestern Athletic Conference squad would not be something to get overly concerned about as a foe inside Bud Walton Arena.

But Texas Southern is not your normal SWAC team seeing as how they have transfers from high-profile programs such as Kentucky and Texas, have just got their best player back and have a win at Oregon State this season.

Not to mention a 6-7 point guard to go along with a starting lineup that also includes 6-11, 6-8, 6-8 and 6-5 – one that dwarfs the opening quintet of the Razorbacks (7-2).

"I'm sure they are going to feel very good about getting all their crew together – all their pieces," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "…Their length all across the board is tremendous."

Texas Southern head coach Tony Harvey is a former Missouri assistant that has a custom-made clothing business that caters to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard among other NBA players.

Harvey, whose team has just one home game before Jan. 15, is now trying to get his squad to fit together on the court.

The coach turned the Tigers from a 7-25 club to a 17-16 one in his first season at the helm - one that ended a step away from the NCAA Tournament when UAPB beat the Texas Southern in the SWAC Tournament Championship game.

"There is no question that we have talent on this team," Harvey said. "Our challenge is getting them to understand their roles and play together, and we'll get there soon."

The Tigers feature former USC, College of Southern Idaho and Kentucky player Kevin Galloway playing point guard, a 6-7 match-up problem who is averaging 12 points, 7.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds a game.

"Galloway, the Kentucky and USC transfer, is at the point guard spot and at 6-7, 220 or 225, he is a tremendous passer and a really good all-around player," Pelphrey said.

He joins 6-3, 205-pound Texas transfer Harrison Smith (13.0) – who played two years for the Longhorns - in giving them two new players to help out a returning star.

That would be star small forward Travele Jones (6-8, 205), the preseason SWAC Player of the Year averaging a double-double at 21 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Jones has played two games and Smith one so far this season for a team that has lost games to Drake, Wichita State, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas State, North Texas and Iowa State.

"Texas Southern has obviously played a very challenging schedule and have kind of been doing it without the whole roster," Pelphrey said. "I believe our game will be the first or second they have played with everybody together. For us, that is a concern.

"They have the preseason Player of the Year in the league back the last two games in Jones and he is right on target there with a double-double," Pelphrey added. "The Texas transfer is back – Harrison Smith – and there is tremendous scoring at that spot. I think 13-and-a-half is what he is averaging."

The Tigers come into this game off of a 78-64 win over Texas State in Heritage Classic in Fort Worth.

Arkansas is coming in off a 71-62 overtime loss to No. 25 Texas A&M Saturday in a contest it let a 10-point lead slip away in the second half.

"That was very tough," Razorback freshman guard Mardracus Wade said. "I thought once went up by 10 of 11, we were just going to increase the lead, but good teams like that they are always going to keep fighting. They are not just going to let you off the hook like that."

While the Razorbacks were going through a field goal drought of over 11 minutes from the second half and into the overtime, the Arkansas futility was in large part because of turnovers according to Pelphrey.

"There were a lot of unforced errors there that we can clean up and be fundamentally better at," Pelphrey said. "You can have those kind of mistakes and expect to beat a ranked team."

Wade notes that the Razorback players are trying to handle the ball too much instead of moving it quickly as the coach has asked them to do.

"We are over-handling the ball a little bit," Wade said. "It's just not those guys (the guards), but the big guys, too. We have to correct that, watch film, get better."

Arkansas center Delvon Johnson – the team's second-leading scorer – had 7 blocked shots against A&M, but got up only two shots.

"As far as the guards, we looked at film and we have to deliver the ball a little more quicker in there to him," Wade said. "He is in there for awhile and we have been hesitating passing him the ball. I think Texas A&M really fronted him good, but we have got to do other things to get him involved in the game."

This is the last game before a Christmas break, but Wade says he doesn't think that will be a problem.

"We talked about it today," Wade said. "We want to finish off with a W. We want to come in and play hard and I don't think we are going to have any distractions."


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