Going into today's practice, University of Arkansas head basketball coach Stan Heath was preparing to do one thing more than any other.
He saw it as the most important thing regarding a Razorback team that is coming off an embarrassing 71-50 loss at Georgia on Saturday.
"The first thing we have got to get straighten out is our attitude," Heath said. "Winning, teamwork - those things have to become first. Those are things you talk about earlier in the season and sometimes you (as a player) forget about that. It's become apparent that sometimes maybe minutes or shots or who is doing what is taking more of an important role than winning.
"So we have to get back to the basics with that type of mentality," Heath added. "I think that will help us if we put winning first and we put all the things necessary to win ahead of all the other little things - the minutes, shot and all those type things."
Arkansas (10-8, 2-5) will host Auburn (11-7, 2-5) Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. in game at Bud Walton Arena that will feature the SEC's Western Division cellar dwellers.
The Razorbacks, who have lost five of their seven, would not be a part of that tandem if they had not blown a 19-point first half lead at Auburn just two weeks again in what turned into a 70-63 Tigers' victory.
"Auburn is looking for their first road win (of the season) and we are in a must-win situation to protect home," Heath said. "That is the big fight, the big challenge that we face on Wednesday. Both teams are coming off a setback."
Auburn, which has lost four of its last five games and two straight since its win over Arkansas, is coming off a 73-68 home loss to Mississippi State.
Tigers head coach Cliff Ellis is wary of his skidding team having to play in Fayettevile even if it is against another team that could be classified as a squad on a slide.
"Arkansas is always a tough place to play," Ellis said. "They have great fans and last week, they had a great win against Vanderbilt in their last home game, and we know how good Vanderbilt is. We played them ourselves, and we know that this Arkansas team is very athletic, and we were very fortunate to win here at Auburn.
The Razorbacks lost at Auburn in part because of a poor second-half shooting effort and also because 6-8 junior Quinnel Brown knocked down two 3-pointers late and had 16 of his points after intermission.
Brown pumped in 20 points on Saturday in the loss to Mississippi State.
"The thing that stuck out to me is that Quinnel Brown is playing very good basketball right now," Heath said. "He is shooting the ball well and he has seemed to step up his role."
The play of Brown and 6-5 junior Lewis Monroe, who had a season-high 17 points in his best effort in an injury-plagued, has spurred Auburn, but it is still the front line that totes the mail for the Tigers.
That frontline of 6-7, 235-pound junior Marco Killingsworth (14.3, 6.5), 6-8, 215-pound junior Brandon Robinson (11.5, 7.1) and 6-10, 235-pound senior Kyle Davis (7.9, 8.1) has been a strength as expected.
"If those two guys (Brown and Monroe) are playing well and their frontline is playing well, they are very different basketball team," Heath said. "It is a very important for us to try and take away some things such as offensive rebouding...Rebounding will be a major emphasis for us in practice the next few days."
Arkansas' starting lineup might have a couple of new faces in it, but that will be determined by practice on Monday and Tuesday.
"Starting lineups, spots - that will probably be ironed out over the next couple of days," Heath said. "I am looking for teamwork, I am looking for a winning attitude and decisions will be made probably on those two attitudes."
The Razorbacks have been led in scoring by 6-4 sophomore Jonathon "Pookie" Modica (17.4) and 6-7 freshman Ronnie Brewer (13.0, 6.0), a pair that had 17 and 15 on Saturday at Georgia.
When Arkansas completed an 70-62 home win over Vanderbilt the game after Auburn, it gave the Razorbacks two wins in three games and five good halves out of six.
The loss at Georgia and two bad halves certainly spoiled the momentum from that and has Arkansas thinking back to the first Auburn game.
"We have got to look at what we were doing well to put us in that position and work on some things," Heath said. "Then we have got to look at some things we didn't do well and then don't put ourselves in that situation again."
Heath is happy to be playing at home in front of the loyal Razorback fans.
"The fans energize us and we really feed off of that," Heath said. "I would like to say we could just play basketball and the crowd wouldn't effect us, but I wouldn't be telling the truth," Heath said. "It really does effect our guys. When things aren't going well, they get lifted up by the crowd...I tell you what when a young person has that juice going, they can accomplish some big things."
Heath looks for attitude adjustment
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