On the Road – again.
For what seems like the umpteenth time in the last few years, Arkansas' basketball program will go on the road in search of a big win.
This time the Razorbacks (12-4, 1-2) – 0-1 on the road this season, 2-19 in the last two-plus years and 9-49 the last six years - travel down to Georgia (8-7, 2-1) looking for a road win to steal in a game that starts at 12:47 p.m.
"It's another test for our guys," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "We played at (Texas) A&M, and I thought our guys probably went in overconfident. Too overconfident. They've got to show up and know we're going to have to scrap and claw just like we play here. Just play with great passion, and play together. When adversity takes place, trust one another."
That's certainly what happened Tuesday night when Arkansas downed No. 13 Kentucky 84-82 on Michael Qualls' dunk with .02 left in overtime at Bud Walton Arena.
Fortunately, the Razorbacks – who had won seven straight home games before the road loss at Texas A&M - had an NCAA-mandated on Wednesday to get over the emotional high of that victory and the physical toll of playing two back-to-back overtime games in three days.
"That game's over with.," Anderson said. "We've got to make sure our guys understand. You can't dwell on a loss or a win. You've got to have short-term memory in this line of work. Even as a player, Kentucky game has nothing to do with the Georgia game.
" ... My biggest point to our guys is going to be, ‘Did we learn something from on the road the last time?' That's, to me, the taste I've still got in my mouth is we missed 14 layups.," Anderson added. "I thought we played with ... nerves were going. And so, now, how do we go out and perform this time? I think this team's hungry. I think our guys are hungry, but we're also going to be playing against a team that just lost a game to a Florida team that's playing well, too. "
The Bulldogs are 7-1 at home this season and have won six straight at home.
"You're going to have two teams that are hungry and get after each other," Anderson continued. "... I think our guys will be ready to play."
Georgia is just over .500, but started out SEC play with wins at Missouri and aa home win over Alabama before falling 72-50 at Florida on Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs are led by a pair of sophomore guards in 6-5 Charles Mann (13.6) and 6-3 Kenny Gaines (11.7) while 6-7 sophomore Brandon Morris (8.8), 6-8 redshirt junior forward Marcus Thornton (7.0) and 6-9 senior forward Dontae Williams (5.7) round out the starting line-up.
They do have a big scoring option off the bench in 6-8, 230-pound Nemanja Djurisic (10.1), who is the team's leading 3-pointer shooter with 19 on the season.
"Well, I think that's the strength of their team," Anderson said of the guards. "I think we've got to do a good job of limiting them. They're capable. Mann, he was the player of the week I think in the league last week. Of course, Gaines is capable of getting big numbers.
"... So, when you say do we match up with their guards, I'm hoping we do," Anderson added. "I'm hoping at the same time that the thing that can be the difference maker will be our bench. Our bench can come to play. Our bench was big in the Kentucky game, and hopefully it's going to be big as we continue to go down this conference race."
Georgia coach Mark Fox, whose team rewarded him with the win over Missouri just a few days after his dad died, has a team that lost a top 10 NBA draft choice in Kentavious Caldwell Pope.
"We're a better offensive this year than we were last year," Fox said before facing Missouri. "We're a team that has more people scoring. We're more efficient. I think you don't quite replace the No. 8 pick in the draft, but we felt like by committee we'd be a better offensive team. I think that's proven to be fairly true."
But Fox notes there are other areas that his team has not been as good in this season as last season.
"I think in any sport — if it is football — you have to be good in the trenches to win and it's very similar in basketball," Fox said. "You have to be very good in the dirty work areas and we have not been and this is probably the first group I've ever had that has not been as consistent there.
"This group has to improve there and the good news is these are areas that can be fixed," Fox added.
Florida took Georgia out of the game early on Wednesday with its pressure defense – obviously something Arkansas hopes is a strength of its on Saturday.
"When you play like boys in a man's game, you've got to be tougher than we were tonight, there's no way around it," Fox said.
Obviously Anderson hopes his team's defense can create some chaos.
"That's going to be our aim," Anderson said. "Our aim is going to be to hopefully to try to cause some chaos with our defense. Try to speed them up. I always continue to think our defense is best in the half-court, but the full-court is going to be to disrupt what they want to do. Because they want to come out and they want to pound you in there. They want to run their offense and attack. They get to the free throw line quite a bit... It tends to favor us to use more people and make them use guys coming off the bench. And make fatigue part of the game."
Qualls and Rashad Madden both had 18 to lead the Razorbacks in their win over Kentucky while Alandise Harris had 12 point, freshman Bobby Portis 11 points and 10 rebounds and Fred Gulley nine points to round out the production of the Razorbacks' starting five.
Georgia is 5-0 this season when holding its opponents under 60 points and just 1-7 when allowing foes to score over 70.
"Georgia is a team that wants it to be in the 60s," Anderson said. "So it's going to be a game of will and tempo. We want it to be uptempo."
Arkansas Looks For Road Reward
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