Coming Back Down To Earth

Fresh off a big win at No. 17 Kentucky, Arkansas (19-9, 8-7) must refocus quicky with Georgia (16-11, 10-5) due in Saturday for a 3 p.m. game at soldout Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas head basketball coach Mike Anderson likes to say you have to put the last game behind you – win or lose – by midnight.

That was hard for his team to do after Thursday night's 71-67 win at No. 17 Kentucky, seeing as how the Razorbacks didn't get back until 1 a.m and had a hearty contingent of fans on hand at the airport for their arrival.

"We had a good group of fans at the airport and then at the parking lot here," Anderson said. "It was a nice reception with the students and cheerleaders. Everybody was excited."

You also throw in the magnitude of the win – a sweep of the season series, Arkansas' first win in Rupp Arena in 20 years, an improved NCAA Tournament resume and the pub the Razorbacks got from doing it on the national stage.

It means a lot," Razorback junior forward Alandise Harris said after the game. "Coach (Anderson) just told us that we haven't done that in 20 years. It's something like history that nobody has won here in 20 years and we've never swept them. It's kind of like a little history. (But) we are moving on to the next game."

That win to be put aside quickly as Arkansas (19-9, 8-7) hosts Georgia (16-11, 10-5) Saturday at 3 p.m in a rematch of a game the Bulldogs won 66-61 in overtime in Athens on Jan. 18.

"I have already moved on to the next," Anderson said. "It's a good win against an outstanding Kentucky team. Maybe we caught them on the right night. But I thought our effort our energy our poise, I thought it was huge. You do it on the national stage, obviously you get some people taking notice.

"But more importantly our focus is on getting ready for this next game," Anderson added. "We have got three games on our conference, a 3-game conference schedule right now and the focus is to prepare for a Georgia team we played earlier."

As both of the teams have won six of their last seven games, it's a match-up of the two hottest teams in the SEC besides – of course – No. 1 Florida (26-2, 15-0), who clinched the league title when Arkansas beat second-place Kentucky (21-7, 11-4) on Thursday.

Georgia is in third place and is coming in off a stretch where it has beat LSU (91-78) and Texas A&M (62-50) at home, won at Mississippi State (75-55), downed visiting Ole Miss (61-60), lost at Tennessee (67-48), won at South Carolina (73-56) and routed visiting Missouri 71-56 on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs are led by the sophomore back court of 6-5, 210-pound Charles Mann (13.5) and 6-3, 195-pound Kenny Gaines (12.6) while 6-8, 235-pound redshirt junior forward Marcus Thornton (8.0, 6.0) has played well inside.

"We're playing pretty solid," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "We've got some things we can get better at; we've got some things we can be more consistent with. I think the one thing we've been able to do is play together and that has helped us.

"We just keep getting better," Fox added. "That's been the focus of this group from day one. Let's get better every day, every week. They've been very invested in that process. So we've been able to make progress and hopefully we'll continue to improve because I think there are things we need to get better at."

Fox got a chance to watch the Arkansas-Kentucky game on TV.

"A high-level game, a really high-level game," Fox said. "Arkansas is playing super. They're playing really well at both ends and it's a great win for them.

"They have a lot of guys playing well," Fox added. "They're finding success right now. So we'll have to play super."

The game is a sellout with some 20,000 fans expected.

"Our crowd normally comes here and they perform," Anderson said. " They participate. They don't just come and sit down. They come and participate so it should be a great atmosphere. And at this time of year energy is so important for any team."

Alandise Harris

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