Testing The Tigers

After having its seven-game winning streak stopped at Ole Miss, Arkansas (12-4, 1-1) will try to bounce back Saturday night at 8 p.m. when it hosts LSU (11-5, 1-1) at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas head basketball coach Mike Anderson may have been back in the SEC just a half-a-season so far, but is very familiar with LSU's leading scorer and rebounder.

Iowa State transfer Justin Hamilton, a 7-foot, 260-pound junior center who is averaging 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, a game, played against Missouri when Anderson was coaching there.

The Razorbacks (12-4, 1-1) - 12-0 this season at home - host the Tigers (11-5, 1-1) Saturday night at 8 p.m.

"We're getting prepared to play against an LSU team that's vastly improved," Anderson said. The leading scorer is Justin Hamilton, the 7-footer I'm very familiar with. Played at Iowa State and of course he's a guy that sat a year. So you know there's maturity there and he's playing very well."

Hamilton has become the first option at LSU after being the fourth or fifth while at Iowa State.

"He's a good player," Anderson said. "He's pretty clever, he's nimble around the basket. He's not an awkward 7-footer. He really attacks the glass, one of his strengths is he really goes to that glass and he can create some havoc around blocking shots. He's a good player."

While 6-9, 262-pound McDonald's All American freshman forward Johnny O'Bryant is out with injury, Hamilton will be joined up front by 6-7, 240-pound senior forward Storm Warren (8.4, 5.3).

That pair gives the Razorbacks some size to battle against after getting drummed on the boards in Wednesday night's 71-63 loss at Ole Miss.

That ended Arkansas' seven-game winning streak

"We've got to keep them off the boards," Anderson said. "They are going to see that as one of our weaknesses, and they are going to try to attack and exploit us on that. We've got to get the game to the tempo of our liking.

"With that being said, the finishing part of defense…is rebounding the basketball," Anderson added. That's all about want-to. We've got to want-to a lot more.

Hamilton and Warren join 5-9 sophomore point guard Andre Stringer (11.6), 6-6 sophomore swingman Ralston Turner (9.2) and 5-11 true freshman point guard Anthony Hickey (8.9).

Arkansas is likely to go after Hickey, but Anderson said he has shown the ability to handle adversity this season.

"He has played well this year for them," Anderson said. "Hopefully we want to make it uncomfortable (for him) so our defense has to be good. It has got to be really good."

LSU whipped Ole Miss 81-55 in its conference opener before falling at Alabama 69-53 on Wednesday. The Tigers had 11 turnovers before halftime against the Tide and fell down by a dozen points and that cost LSU dearly according to head coach Trent Johnson.

"When you have 11 turnovers at the half and six of them of that kind of [unforced] nature it tells me that we weren't ready to go," Johnson said. "We don't have much time to get ready for a team in Arkansas, that quite frankly, their full court pressure and half court pressure in how they want to speed you up is a lot different. It's going to be a lot more challenging than what we just faced."

Arkansas forced Ole Miss into 23 turnovers, but did not capitalize on them as the Razorbacks did in a 98-88 conference-opening home win over No. 15 Mississippi State.

"Hopefully we play defense like we're capable of playing and just get after LSU," Anderson said. "They're a good basketball team. When you get in league play, every loose ball counts. Every rebound counts. Every turnover that you have counts.

"We created turnovers in the game against Ole Miss and for some reason we don't capitalize on them," Anderson added. "That was like totally the opposite of what took place here. That's the learning curve of our BB team. We're a work in progress, that was a bump and we'll learn from it."

Arkansas has to hit the road against Kentucky on Tuesday so would love to get a win on Saturday to regain some confidence.

"I think it's a big game," Anderson said. "All games are big It's no bigger than the Mississippi State game. To me, it's no bigger than the Savannah State game with a young basketball team. I think as you go in conference play, each game becomes bigger. You're in a race. Hopefully you want to be there when it's all said and done.

But more than anything else we want to control the things we can control." Anderson added. "And right now, that is try to get better. Try to get that bad taste out of our mouth. We know we can play better than we played at Ole Miss. So now we get a chance to come back and hopefully play much better at home."


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