Heath, Felton Don't Mind Rematch

FAYETTEVILLE -- Neither Arkansas coach Stan Heath nor Georgia coach Dennis Felton seemed to mind the fact that the Razorbacks and Bulldogs will play each other in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday night, just four days after their Sunday clash.

"In some ways it's a positive for both teams," Heath said Monday.

Felton said, "I have no problem with the rematch. It's part of the (tournament) equation. There's no easy win in our league."

Although Arkansas (21-8, 10-6 SEC) handled Georgia, 74-57, on Sunday in Athens, Ga., Heath cautioned, "I don't think we got their 'A' game. It will be important for us to set the tone early."

Both coaching staffs can just add a few paragraphs to their scouting reports from Sunday.

In Arkansas' case, that means trying to get more production from Darian Townes (two points) and Steven Hill (no points) inside.

Georgia (15-14, 5-11 SEC) will aim to cut down on its 16 turnovers and try to hound the Hogs into more than the six turnovers they had on Sunday.

"Arkansas is playing as good as anyone in the league," Felton said. "We know better than anyone. They sort of had their way with us. They're very well coached and highly motivated to continue the tremendous season they're having."

Levi Stukes, Georgia's leading scorer, has slumped lately, making just 1 of 6 from the field against Florida last week and then 1 of 5 against Arkansas. Similarly, Bulldogs guard Sundiata Gaines has shot just 8 of 29 in the last three games.

"We need to play better," Felton said.

By contrast, Heath said, "We feel we're playing our best basketball now and that's really important this time of season. We're much more relaxed going into the tournament this year -- there's not the added pressure."

Heath tabbed SEC champion LSU as the tournament favorite, but he said, "I like our chances. Our biggest loss in the conference was by five points (63-58 to LSU on Jan. 11). We have enough depth to play multiple games in the tournament."

Felton proved prophetic last week when he said Arkansas guards Ronnie Brewer and Jonathon Modica would be keys to Sunday's game. Brewer scored 25 points and Modica had 19.

"Both of them have the ability to shoot, drive, create and score in the paint," Felton said.

In turn, Heath said, "I like Georgia's guards."

Billy Humphrey, a 6-2 freshman reserve guard, led the Bulldogs in scoring on Sunday with 10 points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Gaines added nine points, but Stukes scored just four points in 13 minutes of playing time.

Georgia whittled a 19-point deficit to 10 points, 56-46, in the second half before Hogs guard Eric Ferguson restored order with two 3-point shots.

"SEC teams are going to make runs," Ferguson said. "That just happens. It's part of the game, man."

Brewer had said last week, three days before the Georgia game, "I think we can walk on the floor with a little swagger."

That swagger gets a little more pronounced after each Arkansas win.

Charles Thomas, who had 15 points and 15 rebounds Sunday, has increased his number of primal screams each game recently.

"Charles has got it going," Heath said. "At halftime Sunday I saw he had 10 points and seven rebounds and I said, 'Man, where did that come from?' He's the most aggressive of our big men, so I left him out there for 27 minutes."

Brady Adjusts Sights
LSU coach John Brady made it clear Monday that the Tigers have bigger fish to fry than the SEC Tournament teams.

"Our goal is to be healthy in the first round of the NCAA Tournament," Brady said.

Tigers forward Tyrus Thomas, whose injured leg has sidelined him for two-and-a-half games, has been limited to swimming, bike-riding and light jogging.

"He has no lateral mobility at all," Brady said. "He's a good week from being able to play."

In addition, LSU guard Darrel Mitchell "hasn't had a good practice in the last 10 days because of his (sore) ankle," Brady said. "That affected his play against Ole Miss (in a 55-52 LSU win on Saturday) -- although they guarded us as well as anybody has."

Brady said the NCAA Tournament committee is aware of LSU's walking wounded.

"Whether that will affect our seeding, I don't know," he said.

Barnes Not Cowed
Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes, who will not return to the Rebels next season, said, "I'm hoping in every way that I'm coaching (somewhere) next year. At 40 years old, I want to believe my best years are ahead of me."

Barnes will guide the Rebs in the SEC Tournament. They play Kentucky at 2:15 p.m. Thursday.

"I'm a little wiser than I was eight years ago," he said. "I definitely see myself coaching next year, but I want it to be around good people."

Not that the Rebels aren't.

"I've been happy with our kids," Barnes said. "They've played hard through the distractions. They're doing it -- I can't take credit for it."

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