After a Wednesday night road trip full of shock and sadness, Thursday brought an attitude of apparent determination and resolve for the University of Arkansas basketball squad.
The Razorbacks (15-7, 4-5), who host Auburn (10-10, 2-7) on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m., were back on the practice court less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking 78-77 loss to LSU.
Before that workout, UA head coach Stan Heath met with the press and said his team was not broken, but instead now more determined than ever to finish the season strong after another narrow road loss.
If we didnt know the definition of adversity before, I am sure we know it now, Heath said. That was a tough one to swallow for sure. But sometimes you learn some things about your team. I was real impressed with the camaraderie, the spirit of the guys, the resiliency that they showed to fight their way back into the game.
Arkansas was down 72-58 before going on a 19-3 run over the last five-plus minutes of action to take a 77-75 lead before Darryl Mitchell hit a shot to send the LSU crowd home happy.
It meant they have now lost five league games by 13 points, including four road games by a total of seven points and sit in third place as they were predicted to finish in the preseason in the SEC Media poll.
I know in the past our toughness and our fight has been questioned a little bit, but that aint the case with this group, Heath said. This group right here is not laying down. Before we left last night, it was almost the attitude of enough is enough. Enough is enough. We are going to do everything we can to not put ourselves in position of one possession...Its our job to put ourselves in situations where we are up six at the end, up by four, not down 10-1 at the end of the game.
Heath, whose team has four home games and three road contests left, knows some might be questioning whether his team has the character to push aside this latest loss and make a run.
We have got a lot of fight in us and our backs are to the wall - well so what, we are going to start swinging, Heath said. ...I dont have any doubt in my mind.
...I just feel like we are turning the corner from an attitude standpoint. I know we can handle it. I know I can handle it and I know the players can handle it. I got to hope our fans can handle it, too. I think they will, too. I think they are going to rally around us on Saturday.
The rally cry started after a quiet locker room at LSU and a silent plane flight home that found the Razorbacks putting away their stuff late in their Bud Walton Arena locker room.
When we got together I didnt really say anything, Heath said. The guys just kind of huddled up and I told them to go home. But Ronnie Brewer called them in and I cant remember the words, but whatever words he said, I was kind of fired up myself.
Razorback senior guard Jonathon Modica echoed those sentiments.
We know that we are a good team and I am proud of how we didnt lay down and just take it last night, Modica said. And we not going to lay down now.
Arkansas won at Auburn 68-52 back on Jan. 21 and will be going for the sweep of the regular season series with the Tigers, who downed visiting Ole Miss 58-50 on Wednesday night.
Theyll shoot a lot of threes, have great length, lots of quickness and will try to scramble the game up, Heath said. Weve got to play well and they are going to be feeling good about themselves coming off a win.
Brewer insists his team will be more than ready for Auburn.
I am certain this team is going to answer the challenge, Brewer said. I am sure of it. We are not going down without a fight and not going down period.
Enough is Enough
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