Hogs Hope to Defend Homecourt with Vanderbilt Visiting Tuesday

Arkansas plays host to Vanderbilt in the season's first SEC game in Bud Walton Arena. The Hogs are trying to bounce back after a loss at Texas A&M to open conference play.

Arkansas has gone the last two weeks without a home game. After an overtime loss at Dayton and a blowout defeat at Texas A&M, the Razorbacks are excited to play at Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday.

Assistant head coach Melvin Watkins, subbing for Mike Anderson at Monday's media opportunity, said the Hogs look forward to some "home cooking" as they play host to Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

"You do the history, playing at home is a positive," Watkins said. "Teams do better at home. But we know if we don't shoot well, don't defend well, Vandy can beat us here."

The Hogs (6-7, 0-1) and Commodores (8-5, 0-1) both lost their SEC openers, although Vandy lost at home to LSU, 90-82. The Hogs were drubbed in College Station, 92-69. Watkins said there are no excuses, but there does seem to be an explanation. They lost an overtime decision at Dayton on Wednesday night before traveling to A&M for an afternoon contest on Saturday.

"We don't accept excuses," he said. "We had given great energy and effort in an overtime game at Dayton, but were not rewarded at the end with a victory. Then had to go back on the road quickly against a good, tough team. That's tough even for anyone, much less a young team.

"We need home cooking right now. We need to sleep in our own beds. We've been trying to find our identity on the road. We have fought hard, but not gotten the reward, a victory. We hope the home crowd helps us get over the hump. It will be good to play with friendly rims, the ones we know. I understand all courts are the same side, but it is easier at home."

Watkins knows the Hogs could be facing an angry Vandy team, upset at falling at home to open conference play.

"Yes, it could be a wounded team," he said. "We know Vandy is a good team. They were ranked in preseason and have very good players. They have four sophomores that have been through the wars. They got some experience last year. I do remember that we pressured them last year here, but they have been through a lot. They may be looked at as inexperienced still as sophomores, but not by us."

One of the key matchups will be Arkansas' Moses Kingsley against Vandy's Damian Jones in the pivot. Kingsley leads the Hogs with 16.5 points and 10.1 rebounds. Jones averages 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds.

"Moses looks forward to the challenge," Watkins said. "We knew that we were going to face some good, athletic big men once we got into conference play. We know Moses will need some help for this matchup. Others have to contribute and we may have to run some guys at Jones to help Moses."

Watkins was asked where the Hogs stack up in SEC play.

"We thought we were playing good basketball and have lost some close games," Watkins said. "We throw away the A&M tape. There is still a lot of basketball to be played. It's up to us to do something about it. We are very positive about where we are and we think we can play our type of basketball. We just have to win some tight games.

"Right now, we have to take care of homecourt. What you do in the SEC, take care of homecourt and steal some on the road. We know Vandy is coming in here a little wounded and we have to respond."


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