A former fan of the Razorbacks will try to do his best to help take them down tonight at Bud Walton Arena.
Former Little Rock Parkview star Rod Earls will lead Tulsa (9-2) into battle with the University of Arkansas (10-3) in a 7:05 p.m. game.
Earls, a 6-2 junior guard who spent a pair of years of Paris Junior College and then redshirted last season due to injury, is averaging a team-high 12.2 points this season, shooting 44.1 percent from 3-point range and 90.9 percent from the free throw line.
"My parents and I were big fans of not only the Razorbacks, but (former coach) Nolan Richardson," Earls told the Tulsa World. "We went to a lot of games. I wanted to be a Hog growing up, but I grew out of it when I went to high school."
Arkansas head coach Stan Heath, who will coaching against former Michigan State assistant Steve Wojcik, tonight expects a tough battle from the Golden Hurricane, whose losses have been road games to Oklahoma and North Texas.
"They are off to a great start," Heath said. "Their defense is tough. They are getting a lot of balance offensively. I look for it to be a good ballgame."
Joining Earls in Tulsa's three-guard starting lineup will be 6-2 freshman point guard Ben Uzoh (10.3), 6-8, 230-pound freshmen forward Jamal McLean (6.2), 6-9, 235-pound sophomore center Sam Mitchell and 6-0 junior guard Brett McDade (6.0).
Arkansas will counter with s starting lineup that includes 6-1 freshman guard Patrick Beverley (14.2), 6-8 junior forward Charles Thomas (12.8, 5.4) , 6-6 junior small forward Sonny Weems (11.5), 6-0 junior point guard Gary Ervin (8.5) and either 7-0 junior center Steven Hill (5.2) or 6-10 junior forward Darian Townes (8.1).
This is the last game contracted between Arkansas and Tulsa, but Heath says he would like to see the series continue between the foes where the Razorbacks lead 35-23.
"There is a good history between Arkansas and Tulsa," Heath noted. "Their program is on the way back up. It's a good test for us."
Arkansas will open SEC play Saturday when it hosts No. 8 Alabama (12-1) at 1:05 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena before then traveling to No. 3 Florida (12-2) for a Tuesday night game.
"Obviously, when Alabama and Florida are your first two conference games, that presents problems, but, we're close to where we need to be," Heath said. "Tulsa will give us a tough test Tuesday night."
Arkansas vs. Tulsa
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