Now that Arkansas has proved it can win a basketball game on the road, it goes back to trying to hold serve at home.
The Razorbacks (15-9, 6-5) will host Missouri (18-6, 7-4) Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena in a sold out game that will be televised by ESPN2.
"It's going to be a great, great atmosphere and it should be a great game," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said.
The backdrop is one in which Anderson left Missouri to take over the Razorbacks two seasons ago, which added some heat to an old rivalry between the Razorbacks and Tigers.
He will be coaching against a few players he signed – such as 5-11 junior point guard Phil Pressey and 6-8 senior forward Laurence Bowers.
"They are winners," Anderson said. "…Those are like my sons. They are family for life. It will be interesting."
Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade knows will be an emotional one for Anderson and a big one for the Razorbacks' post-season chances.
"I think it is going to be a great atmosphere," Wade said. "That is a good team that has good players. I played with Laurence Bowers back in high school when we played AAU ball together. They are going to try and come in here and get a win. We have to come in and bring the fight to them and play our style and get up and down."
Missouri went 2-2 out of the SEC gate this season when Bowers was hurt, but has won its last two games – a home win over Ole Miss (98-79) and then a road win over Mississippi State (78-36).
"That's a very good team we are playing," Anderson said. "We have got to play well. We have done that here at home. But we have to even more so because of their size and physicality and when you have a point guard like Phil, it makes them very, very dangerous."
The win over the Bulldogs was the Tigers' first road win of the year in six games and pushed struggling Mississippi State's losing streak to nine.
"They've got all their pieces back together now, and they're playing well," Anderson said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence right now, and getting that (road) win, that really helps your confidence."
Missouri has six players that are scoring in double figures this season with 6-5 sophomore guard and Oregon transfer Jabari Brown (15.1), Bowers (14.7, 6.1), Pressey (12.2, SEC-leading 7.0 assists), 6-4 senior guard Keion Bell (11.1), 6-9, 255-pound UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi (10.7, 8.7) and 6-5 Auburn transfer Earnest Ross (10.3, 5.2).
Bell had 24 points, Oriakhi 10 rebounds and Pressey eight assists to lead the Tigers – who are third in the nation in rebounding at 42 boards a game - to the win at Mississippi State.
Former Miami coach Frank Haith took over at Missouri when Anderson left for Arkansas.
"I think for the most part the kids are still playing up tempo," Anderson said. "I think they spread the floor and use Phil in that way where he can create some things for them. They've got guys spotting up on the 3. They're a good 3-point shooting team.
"…With a guy like Phil, he's got eyes in the back of his head," Anderson said. "I mean, he goes one way and passes it back the other way. They're going to play physical, they're going to demand that they get the ball inside-out as well. So, I think they're still playing up-tempo basketball. Probably not pressing as much, but I think their defense, their half-court defense is still locking in on you at times."
Bowers noted getting the road win helps with confidence in this upcoming game in Fayetteville.
"I think this kind of boosted our confidence - not too much to the point where we feel like we've done a ton, but just getting that first road win," Bowers told the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. "I think it was great for our team, and now we know that we can win on the road."
It should also help the Razorbacks that they got their first road win the same night the Tigers did their's.
B.J. Young had 25 points and Marshawn Powell 20 points and 9 rebounds as Arkansas downed Auburn 83-75.
Wade and Rickey Scott added 11 points as the Razorbacks put together a solid all-around performance.
"I just think they brought the effort," Anderson said. "I think more than anything else, if you saw our team, I think you saw the same effort we had when we played Florida. And I think with effort you can do a whole lot of things.
"The energy was there," Anderson added. "Guys were trusting one another. They played with the right mindset. They were moving the ball. They were screening for one another. They were defending, and so again, that's the team we want to see from here on out."
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