Razorback Celebration

While it may be without injured center Moses Kinglsey, Arkansas will try to avenge a defeat against LSU earlier this season when the Razorbacks (15-9, 4-7) host the Tigers (15-8, 6-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday on a day when the school's six Final Four teams will be honored.

On a day when its glorious past will be celebrated, Arkansas' basketball program will try to continue the revitalization of its present.

All six of the Razorbacks' Final Four teams – including the 1994 national championship squad – will be honored as Arkansas (15-9, 4-7) hosts LSU (15-8, 6-5) in a 4 p.m game at Bud Walton Arena that will be televised by ESPNU.

Ironically the coaches that got the Razorbacks to four of those six Final Fours – Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson – were both announced as finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

"I think it's a neat thing," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said of the celebration. "It's good to bring back a lot of the guys that actually are responsible for the program, where it is today, this building, the winning tradition. There's a tremendous history, and sometimes the story's not told quite properly.

"But I want our guys to understand and relish it, as well as I'm sure our fans will love to see those guys, all under one roof," Anderson added. "The guys that were a part of those special years. And knowing there's been a past, a present, and there will also be a future.

….Basketball is so important here at the University of Arkansas," Anderson continued. "So I'm excited to see some of those guys. It should be a great, great atmosphere."

The celebration will include former President Bill Clinton, a native Arkansan who will receive a framed jersey.

"They'll be excited," Anderson said of his players. "They're excited about playing right now. If you what our team right now, they're eager to play. You look at the bench, you look out at the guys out on the floor. I mean, they' know they're starting to play really really good basketball, and this is the time of the year you want to continue to have of those guys playing well."

The Razorbacks, who lost at LSU 88-74 earlier this season, were riding a two-game win streak before an 86-85 defeat at Missouri on Thursday night.

The recent surge of good play has helped Arkansas' push toward a post-season berth – be it NCAA or the NIT.

"We've got win games," Anderson said. "I think that's the bottom line. We've been to the point where we're in it, we're right there. We've got to take that next step and go past that hump. That's what we talked about. Finish to win. And we've put ourselves in position to do that.

"We've shown we're capable of playing with anybody, whether it be here on the road," Anderson added. "So we've just got to keep the mindset of controlling what we can control. And that's going to be the next game with LSU."

LSU is coming in off an 83-73 loss at Texas A&M.

"A tough setback for us (Wednesday) night there in College Station," Tigers head coach Johnny Jones said. "We played a team that came out and shot the ball probably as well as they have all year long, knocking down 10 threes and hitting a high percentage from the field. They made some big plays down the stretch each time we made a run. We have a tough game coming up on Saturday so we quickly have to get that one behind us."

Jones knows his team is going to be facing one of the better atmospheres in college basketball.

"It is going to be an unbelievable atmosphere; it is one of the best in college basketball," Jones said. "They do a tremendous job with their fans and creating the type of atmosphere you need for a great home crowd.

"On top of that, they are inviting the Final Four and National Championship teams back along with former President Clinton as well," Jones said. "If we aren't enough for them to create the atmosphere, they have some other incentives. That's what you come to college for and that's why you come to LSU – to play in those types of environments and compete at the highest level."

LSU rolled out to a 20-point lead in the first half of its earlier game with Arkansas in Baton Rouge before the Razorbacks rallied to within 5 in the second half.

The Tigers' inside duo of junior Johnny O'Bryant (6-9, 256) and freshman Jordan Mickey (6-8, 220) dominated inside in that earlier game.

"A quick turnaround and we will play against an LSU team we played earlier in the year, a team that has tremendous, tremendous size," Anderson said. "Johnny O'Bryant and Mickey are playing at a high level, and that's one thing that we really have to be able to match up with their size and strength and limit them on the boards."

Arkansas' chore in defending them will be made more difficult if 6-10 freshman center Moses Kingsley is not able to play.

Kingsley was not scheduled to practice on Friday after suffering a hard fall in the game at Missouri.

"We'll see how that works out," Anderson said. "He played well down there last time and gives us a presence inside especially on the defensive side and offensively. Hopefully we will have him."

The Razorbacks were without both sophomore Michael Qualls and junior Alandise Harris in the last game against LSU as both were suspended for the contest.

"Defensively we have to be better than we were last time we were there," Anderson said. "We have all the parts this time. We have two guys that did not play in that game."

Qualls had a team-high 17 points and hit a game-winning 3-pointer in a road win at Vanderbilt while Harris had 16 points at Missouri.

"Alandise, I thought played tremendously," Anderson said. "He played like a warrior. He's a guy that we count on. I thought Michael came in during the second half and gave us some really big minutes...So having those guys back gives us our full contingent. Depth is a big weapon that we use. It's the strength we have on our basketball team if you look at the numbers."

Anderson believes his team is finally turning a corner.

"I think you can see that," Anderson said. "You watch this team through the course of the year it's an evolution.They get closer and closer. And in the face of that adversity last night, we get down 11 in the second half, our guys never faltered. They stuck to the game plan and they trusted one another.

"They are doing some good things defensively although we had some breakdowns in that particular game," Anderson added. "But we are giving ourselves a chance and I think that's the key whether you play at home or the road, give yourself a chance."





Jordan Mickey scores over Moses Kingsley earlier this year in Baton Rouge.


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