ATLANTA — The Arkansas and Mississippi State basketball teams each spent a considerable amount of energy while winning games Friday at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Razorbacks fought back from an eight-point deficit to squeak past Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs outlasted Kentucky for a two-point victory in overtime.
And less than a day later, the Razorbacks and Bulldogs must recharge for another grueling game. They meet today in the SEC semifinals at noon in the Georgia Dome.
"I think both teams are going to have to put their games behind them quickly," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. "It's going to be a war. The last time, we had a little scuffle. It'll be interesting to see what the intensity level is like this time, and how both teams respond to that."
Despite their drained physical condition, both teams should possess ample motivation for today's contest.
Most importantly, Arkansas could seal an NCAA Tournament at-large berth with a victory. At the same time, Mississippi State could feel the same way.
Heath argued Friday after the Hogs' 72-71 victory over Vanderbilt that his team deserved a berth regardless of today's outcome. In fact, Arkansas' projected RPI rose to 38, according to realtimerpi.com late Friday night.
Don't confuse that as a sign the Razorbacks will take Mississippi
State lightly, though.
"Absolutely, no question about it (I think we should be in)," Heath said. "Anybody who has been watching this team ... there is no way you can look at it and say that this team does not belong in the 65.
"But we still have some basketball to play and we don't want to leave anything to chance. Winning (the tournament) is the only thing that guarantees you that spot."
The other motivating factor for both teams certainly revolves around the brief shoving match on Feb. 28 during Arkansas' nine-point victory in Fayetteville.
In that game, Gary Ervin drove into the lane and got fouled by
Mississippi State's Charles Rhodes. Ervin and Rhodes exchanged
unpleasant comments and pushed each other. Steven Hill stepped in and started to yell at Rhodes. Patrick Beverley charged at Rhodes and was restrained by teammates.
It's an incident no one has forgotten.
"Oh yeah, it'll be on our minds," Arkansas forward Sonny Weems said. "It'll be a real physical game."
Hogs vs. Dogs III
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout On the Road: SeptemberScout takes a look at some of the top prospects we saw in person during the month of September...
Scout FootballYesterday at 2:00 PM
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM