Thousands of University of Arkansas students fled the campus Friday as spring break officially got underway.
But the Razorback basketball team doesn't want one – well, unless New York City is what you would call a spring break destination spot.
Arkansas (22-11) will leave Fayetteville Saturday in advance of its game with California (20-13) Monday night at 10 p.m. CST on ESPN2.
A Razorback win there would mean a Wednesday night game with SMU in Dallas or with LSU in Fayetteville in the third round – a step away from New York City.
"That's all we've been taking about all season, is not getting a spring break," Razorback junior guard Rashad Madden said Friday. It's not fun for us to be on spring break. We hopefully will continue to play well and continue to win so we won't have one."
The Razorbacks and head coach Mike Anderson will be trying to avenge an 85-77 defeat at the hands of the Bears back in late November in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
"We get to go on the road in the second round of the NIT and face a Cal team that has played well at home," Anderson said. "We played them earlier in the year in Maui. They are a different team now than at that stage - they beat us - and hopefully we are a different team as well.
" In that particular game they did a really good job of dominating the boards, and I thought that was the difference in the game," Anderson added. "They attacked us on the glass and got to the free throw line and got some easy buckets there and got second and third efforts."
In that game, Arkansas freshman forward Bobby Portis had arguably his worst game of the year while fellow 6-10 rookie Moses Kingsley did not even play.
Portis went and sit on the beach after the game and called Anderson.
"He was eager to find out what could he do to be better," How can he be more effective for our basketball team. And I think we have seen this guy really kind of blossom a little bit. Nowhere near what he is going to be but he has gotten better.
" He's like a sponge," Andersons said. "He takes to criticism as well as the coaching and that to me is the good part about Portis is he want to be a student of the game. So now that gives him the opportunity to show that he has improved since that particular game."
Both had great efforts the following game in Maui – a win over Minnesota.
"I think Moses is going to give us that physical toughness in there and a guy that can protect the rim," Anderson said. "Moses won't back down from anybody. He will throw his body in there and we have got to have some warriors that will go in there and throw their body and rebound the basketball and do all the little things."
California head coach Mike Montgomery's team beat Utah Valley State 77-64 on Wednesday night before a crowd of only 1,862 fans in an arena that seats over 11,000.
He expects a few more to come for the Razorbacks.
"It's a pretty good deal to be able to get a team like Arkansas on your home court in mid-March," Motgomery said. "If you think about it, that's a pretty could deal. We should be excited about that. If you want to see some athletes, come out Monday. They've got some.
"They're going to pressure you for 40 minutes and 94 feet," Montgomery added. " We played them in Hawaii early and we scored 88 points. They force you up and down the floor. We were playing pretty good at that point. I'm sure they'll be fired up and ready to go. That should be a really challenging game for us."
Arkansa is expected to have a decent contingent of fans because of a large alumni group in the area.
"I think it will be kind of neat," Anderson said. " I think it's great. We're going to have even ... a guy like (former Razorback) Darnell Robinson. He lives right out there, so he'll have his family there. So, that's neat. Possibility Corliss will be there. So, to have those guys and other people that will have a chance to come and support our team, that's a good feeling. That just tells you the Razorback Nation is nationwide. I'm sure our guys will be appreciative of it."
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