The Next One

After a big win over No. 22 Kentucky on Wednesday night, Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and his Razorbacks (17-10, 6-7) knows it must put that behind them and focus solely on Saturday's game at Auburn.

While there were certainly reasons to celebrate Arkansas' 77-76 upset of No. 22 Kentucky on Wednesday night, John Pelphrey and his team knew it was about getting back to work on Thursday.

Because ending a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats – and notching wins against Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt in the same season for the first since 1995 - won't mean as much if Arkansas goes to Auburn and lays an egg Saturday.

The game between the Razorbacks (17-10, 6-7) and Tigers (9-18, 2-11) is slated for a 12:47 p.m. tip-off and will be televised by the SEC network.

"That is going to be a big challenge in this basketball game," Pelphrey said. "It is only one win, but obviously who it was against and the time of the year, I am sure there is an element of feeling good about it. We have to handle that, be able to focus and stay on the task at hand."

That's same sentiment was echoed by junior guard Jeff Peterson.

"The biggest thing for us is to be mature and realize that we had a big win last night, but the season is not done and we still have a lot of things we can accomplish," Peterson said.

It may sound ridiculous to some since Auburn has the worst record in the league, but the Tigers have been far more competitive lately.

Than includes a 51-49 heartbreaking loss at Alabama on Wednesday night.

"If you get yourself to the right level emotionally, physically and mentally in college basketball, it seems like you can win," Pelphrey said. "If you don't get yourself there, you are probably going to lose. That is just kind of the way it is especially in our league."

Arkansas is just 1-6 on the road this season with the lone win a shocking one at No. 19 Vanderbilt.

"We are going to have to understand we will have to play one of our better games of the year to win this basketball game," Pelphrey said.

While Alabama has clinched the SEC Western Division title, the Razorbacks (17-10, 6-7) are tied for second in the SEC West with Mississippi State - a team that comes to Bud Walton Arena next Wednesday.

Auburn pushed Alabama to the brink before falling in Tuscaloosa.

"This is an Auburn team that has a lot of fight in them," Pelphrey said. "…They came as close as anybody to beating Alabama on their home floor this year. I am sure they gained a lot of confidence from that game."

Auburn led 42-29 at one point before letting it slip away as JaMychal Green tipped in a shot in the final seconds.

"Auburn was physical and tough and made plays," Pelphrey said. "Alabama is a really good basketball team. It came down literally to the last season of the game. Auburn was right there."

Since the Razorbacks hammered the Tigers 80-61 back on Jan. 25, Auburn has notched wins at South Carolina and over Mississippi State.

They have also been competitive in every game since then except a 90-59 loss at Ole Miss.

"I think there is a comfort level with the system, with the style," Pelphrey said. "There is a notable difference in how hard those guys are playing and competing. I think they have more confidence than I have seen since the last time we played them."

Peterson said his team is rallying around each other and putting aside criticism he has heard from fellow students on campus.

"We know people don't really believe in us or anything like that," Peterson said. "When we are losing, everybody is criticizing. When we are winning, they want to be friends and stuff or whatever.

"I am not saying everybody, but just the majority of people," Peterson said. "We just know that everybody in the locker room is on our side and that's about it."

Peterson wanted it to be known that he wasn't taking a shot at the fans.

"When I say that I don't mean everybody," Peterson said. "You just have to watch out for some people. I do know that we have great fans here that do believe in us, but I just as a whole we in the locker room have to watch our backs…We have to continue to believe in ourselves no matter what the fans or media says, anybody outside the locker room trying to derail our mission."


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