ATLANTA — The task of beating the same team twice within a six-day span is tough enough without any extreme emotions involved.
But when Arkansas takes on Vanderbilt today at 2:15 p.m. in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, bitter sentiments will play a part.
Six days ago, Arkansas stormed into Nashville and drilled the
Commodores by 15 points on their Senior Night.
So, forget the focus on a berth to the SEC semifinals. The Razorbacks will encounter a Vanderbilt team with far more on its mind.
"I know one thing. They weren't happy, and I know that there'll be a little extra motivation for Vanderbilt to play well against us," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said.
After dispensing of South Carolina by 30 points Thursday, Arkansas' players admitted to realizing they'd stumble upon an angry bunch of Commodores today.
In that 82-67 victory on March 4, Vanderbilt shot just 31.7 percent.
The Commodores' top two scorers, Derrick Byars and Shan Foster, combined for only 27 points.
"Vanderbilt is going to want it a little bit more than normal,"
Arkansas forward Darian Townes said. "They're going to be really pumped up. But we've got a lot of momentum on our side too. It's going to be a dogfight."
Mainly, the Hogs' second time of trying to limit Byars is bound to be intense.
Byars, the SEC coaches' Player of the Year, was hounded by a
combination of Charles Thomas, Sonny Weems and Michael Washington last Saturday.
They frustrated him into taking wild shots and forcing errant passes.
Most importantly, Heath said the Razorbacks must forget about their an improved squad.
"We've got to throw that game away, other than trying to figure out what we did well in the film and take some things from there, learning-wise and preparation-wise," Heath said.
The coach of the team Arkansas defeated Thursday said the Razorbacks would present a tough challenge for Vanderbilt, despite the rematch factor, as well as future opponents.
"I think they've got a chance to do good things in this tournament," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. "Should Arkansas be able to get past Vanderbilt, I think they have the depth to play four days."
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