It's A Must-Win

FAYETTEVILLE -- Urgency could supply the kind of spark the Arkansas Razorbacks have been looking for since drilling Alabama to start their Southeastern Conference slate.

Lack of intensity at times has plagued Arkansas throughout a curent three-game losing streak, an absence of victories punctuated by Steve Newman's buzzer-beater Wednesday night for Georgia.

But now, Arkansas can't afford even one sluggish possession. The Razorbacks (12-6) can't get lazy on defense. They can't settle for bad shots. With an SEC mark of 1-3 and LSU (13-4, 2-1) coming to Fayetteville on Saturday, there's no time for the Hogs to continue their current funk.

They must play their best basketball, immediately, or face dire consequences.

"This is a game that we have to win," Ervin said. "No excuses about it. We just have to come in and just play as a team and win this game. We're on a three-game losing streak, and we've got to do the things that we can control in order to win this game."

Mainly, Ervin speaks of turnovers. After most of Arkansas' six losses this season, Ervin has uttered similar words.

A pattern has formed.

"The turnover bug has to be fixed," Heath said. "It's just a tell-tale sign of our team. When we take care of (the ball), we're good. When we don't take care of it, we have trouble."

The Razorbacks had 19 turnovers against Georgia, and they paid dearly for it.

Now, they face what several players are calling a "must-win," and they have little margin for the type of error exhibited Wednesday night.

For junior center Steven Hill, the collective feeling that swirled around the Hogs' Bud Walton Arena locker room Thursday was familiar. Arkansas has experienced this kind of urgency after a rough SEC start.

Hill said he was just as distraught Thursday as he was the day after Arkansas lost at Ole Miss last season and fell to 5-6 in the SEC.

Three days later, though, the Razorbacks outlasted Florida and sparked a six-game winning streak.

"What happened last year was we just got to the point where we were disgusted with ourselves," Hill said. "I'm just as upset now. I really think after losing this game at home we should go undefeated at home.

"So, I really hope we understand that we have to bring it for the rest of the season."

Heath said Saturday's game presents an unlikely opportunity for his team.

The Razorbacks didn't meet his expectations during the past 10 days while losing at Florida and Ole Miss and at home to Georgia. He admits a loss on Saturday could prove disastrous. Lose on Saturday and SEC starts of 2-5, even 1-6, come into the picture considering road contests at South Carolina and Alabama await after LSU.

But Heath said the direction of this season could swing drastically with a victory. Every team in the SEC Western Division has won a game and every squad has lost one.

With a certain series of results, including an Arkansas win, the six teams could wake up Sunday morning and look at standings that have them separated by just a half-game.

So, to say the least, Saturday is important. As important as it's gotten so far this season for Arkansas.

"The funny thing about the wild, wild West right now is it seems like everybody's still in the picture," Heath said. "This would be a huge game for us if we were able to get this one."

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