Rivalry Renewed

While Arkansas' football team will be trying to take down Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Razorbacks' 10-2 basketball team has a date in Austin with an old rival in the No. 12 Longhorns (11-2).

Even though it is at an old SWC arch-rival and the teams are a combined 21-4, Arkansas' basketball game at Texas Tuesday night isn't likely to draw a huge ESPNU television audience.

That's because the visiting school's football team will be playing Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl at the same time.

But that doesn't make the Razorbacks (10-2) game at the No. 12 Longhorns (11-2) in Austin any less important when it rolls around Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

"You can't win on the road - especially against a ranked opponent – in what will be a hostile environment, unless the whole team is ready," Razorback head coach John Pelphrey said. "It won't be any one guy that wins this basketball game. It will be our team. We have to collectively be good.

"The fundamental things will be important – stuff like taking care of the basketball, defending and rebounding obviously," Pelphrey added, "but other stuff like competing on every single play, never giving up on a play, blocking out, not taking it for granted that I can walk out on the wing and catch the basketball. I am going to have to break hard and run my hands to the basketball, whoever is screening has to run to contact."

Pelphrey, whose team has won three straight and seven of eight, is fully aware his team is facing its biggest challenge of the season just ahead of starting SEC play at home Saturday with Tennessee.

"We are looking for our team to operate and play our best game of the year," Pelphrey said. "That is what it is going to take against this type of opponent – any opponent – but especially this type of opponent. You have got to be 10 points better than your opponent just to have a chance."

The Longhorns are 8-0 this season, but that excites the Razorback players more than puts fear into them.

"I love playing in that type environment," junior forward Marvell Waithe said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be different. It will be an everybody against the world type thing."

Waithe is Canadian as are two of Texas' players – his long-time friends and McDonalds's All-Americans Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.

"I have seen them (the Longhorns) play a lot," Waithe said. "I have some close friends that are from Canada so I have been keeping up with them all year."

Although head coach Rick Barnes' Longhorns have lost some big-time players in the last few years, they have kept their program at an elite level.

Texas' wins at Michigan State (67-55) and over North Carolina (78-76) in Greensboro have made statements this season.

The two losses have come against Pittsburgh (68-66) in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic in New York and at USC (73-56).

"Texas is obviously a tremendous basketball team, extremely, extremely well-coached," Pelphrey said. "They have great, great defensive numbers now if you look at their team defense. (A) great rebounding basketball team. They take care of the basketball with more assists than turnovers. Coach Barnes is a great, great coach.

"I think Texas is playing very well right now," Pelphrey added. "We are going to have a chance to go down there and play them in their building and it will be a tremendous challenge. Needless to say, it will be a tough basketball game and we will have to compete at a very high level and do some of the thing we do in terms of defend and rebound a little bit. We'll have to do those things the best tat we have all year and certainly take care of the basketball and try to find a way to the free throw line."

The Longhorns are led by 6-7, 220-pound sophomore small forward Jordan Hamilton (19.8, 7.2) and Thompson (12.0, 8.1), a 6-8, 225-pound freshman forward.

"I think they are a tremendously, tremendously talented offensive basketball team," Pelphrey said. "Their leading scorer Jordan Hamilton is 6-foot-7 at the small forward spot and shoots with great range, a very good wide-open player. He can also post up. He really is a big part of what they try to get done offensively.

"His rebounding at that spot is probably what separates a lot of teams," Pelphrey added. "Everybody may have a center that rebounds or a power forward that rebounds, a guard that score, but here is a small forward that can do it - rebound and score at that spot."

"Thompson up front is so big and agile and athletic," Pelphrey continued. "You would like to force him to score the ball as opposed to getting him angles where he can dunk. But with his rebounding and his ability to move around a little bit, he finds a lot of angles to the basket and finishes. You are not going to stop him from finishing those plays."

That duo has joined 6-3 freshman guard Corey Joseph (11.7), 6-6, 238-pound senior forward Gary Johnson (11.7, 7.3) and 6-1 senior point guard Dogus Balbay (4.2) in starting all 13 games this season.

Arkansas will not pull back on the throttle just because it is a road game according to Pelphrey.

"I don't want to slow down our pacing, I still want to be very, very aggressive and attack and get out there as much as we can in transition," Pelphrey said. "We need those easy baskets. We certainly want to be smart. We don't want to take bad shots, which is sometimes like a turnover. We don't want to do that. We want to make sure we get our shots and run our half-court offense.

"The other thing we would need to do in terms of offense is play fast, but not turn it over," Pelphrey added. "We can't have turnovers that lead to dunks and lay-ups."

Arkansas is led by 6-0 junior guard Rotnei Clarke (14.3), 6-9 senior center Delvon Johnson (10.3, 8.8), 6-1 sophomore guard Julysess Nobles (9.5) and 6-1 junior guard Jeff Peterson (8.2) and 6-7 sophomore forward Marshawn Powell (7.6).

The Razorbacks will be without freshman guard Rickey Scott (stress fracture), but should have the services of 6-8, 236-pound-pound redshirt junior forward Michael Sanchez and 6-7 sophomore Glenn Bryant (5.7).

Sanchez saw his first action of the season with six minutes in the last game after breaking a bone in his foot while Bryant has been hobbled.

"Those guys will certainly be healthy enough to give us some minutes," Pelphrey said. "Mike will be still limited. We may push him past eight (minutes) a little bit. There is no way he will get 20. Whether he can do 15 or 16, I don't know. I would say Glenn would probably be a full go."

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