Thomas Plays Tough In The Paint

FAYETTEVILLE -- Charles Thomas knew a team like Missouri could make Arkansas pay for its mistakes in a big way. With their pressing-style defense and fast-paced attack, the Tigers could have been a team that spelled trouble for the Razorbacks on Wednesday in Bud Walton Arena.

Just ask Thomas. He knows. He was there in Columbia, Mo., a year ago when Missouri basically whipped Arkansas up and down the court in an 86-64 laugher.

Thomas also knew the only way to stop that from happening again was to fight back. Simply put, it was time for The Manimal to be the man.

"Me, as well as Darian Townes and Steven Hill, everybody questioned our heart in the frontcourt position," Thomas said. "But we really stuck in there tonight and got the job done."

In the second half, Thomas particularly got it done. With the Tigers breathing down Arkansas' neck, the 6-foot-8 senior forward -- who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds -- showed signs of taking the game over in a few key spots.

As coach John Pelphrey put it, the Manimal turned warrior on Wednesday night. At just the right time, too.

"He did a great job of attacking and he made some big shots," Pelphrey said. "He had a real warrior-type attitude."

Don't Forget T.J.

Anderson wasn't the only man on the Missouri bench Wednesday with ties to Arkansas. Former Razorback T.J. Cleveland, a letterman under Richardson and Anderson from 1998-2002, is an assistant at Missouri.

Like Anderson, Cleveland was pleased with the warm reception and not one bit surprised.

"It was great," Cleveland said. "It shows a lot about the Arkansas fans. They appreciate all that was done here for 17 years. (Coach Richardson and coach Anderson) kind of built this dynasty."

Cleveland admitted he was happy to be back on his old stomping grounds. But now as a Tiger, he was unhappy to walk away with the loss.

"I had a weird feeling," Cleveland said. "It was great to see old friends, but I wish we had gotten the victory.

"My hat is off to Arkansas."

Pelphrey Gets First Against Anderson

John Pelphrey is now 1-2 in his head coaching career against Mike Anderson after Wednesday's victory. The two had previously met while coaching at South Alabama and Alabama-Birmingham, respectively.

On Jan. 3, 2004, Anderson's UAB Blazers defeated Pelphrey and South Alabama, 90-75. The next season, Anderson made it 2-0 against Pelphrey with an 82-75 win at South Alabama on Dec. 31, 2004.

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