The University of Arkansas snuck into Oklahoma last week and stole one from Oral Roberts University.
That would be Verdigris (Okla.) guard Rotnei Clarke, who got his choice down to those two schools before choosing the Razorbacks (5-1).
On Saturday, ORU (4-2) – bolstered by a big win over rival Tulsa on Tuesday - hopes to get a measure of revenge as the two teams meet in a 2:05 game at Bud Walton Arena.
"They are a confident bunch," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said of the Golden Eagles, who have won four straight. "They've been in this situation. They've already played at Texas A&M (a 67-54 loss). They are used to winning at a high level."
The Golden Eagles – who have made two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament - have five players scoring at least nine points per game with 5-11 junior college transfer Robert Jarvis (18.3), 6-8, 245-pound juco transfer Marcus Lewis (12.5), 6-6 swingman Moses Ehambe (10.5), 6-10 senior Shawn King (9.7) and 6-2 senior guard Adam Liberty (9.0).
They also are 3-0 since the re-instatement of 6-7, 215-pound junior forward Marchello Vealy, a preseason all-Summit pick who was suspended for "failing to perform student-athlete responsibilities."
"They will try to take advantage of the three-point line and on the break," Pelphrey said. "In the past, they've had good balance. We have to expect the unknown. We will have to play well to win."
Jarvis had 23 points off the bench and Lewis 21 to lead ORU over visiting Tulsa 84-70 on Tuesday night at the Mabee Center.
"He's a fun player to watch," Sutton told the Tulsa World about Jarvis. "He can get on a streak and there will be some games this year where he will have over 30 points, no question. He can get on that type of streak and he's not afraid to take the big shot."
Pelphrey and Sutton, son of former Arkanasas coach Eddie Sutton, certainly have a history beginning when the UA coach was an restricted earnings' assistant at Oklahoma State and the ORU coach was a player.
"Scott (Sutton) has done a great, great job," Pelphrey said. "He and his family are very important to me…I know Scott very well. Scott did not want to coach. At least that was what he said. He's good. He has a lot of the same qualities as Coach Sutton. He was a great, great player. He was the only player on the team that could get the ball inside to Bryant Reeves. He could shoot the ball a little bit and he had some toughness to him."
Although they have lost some key players, ORU waltzed into Lawrence Field House last year and beat homestanding Kansas.
"They played here last year, so they are familiar with the environment," Pelphrey said. "They won last year at Kansas."
Arkansas will certainly come in confident as well after an exciting 94-91 win over visiting Missouri.
It was a game that Clarke and his dad Conley – the director of basketball operations for ORU took in – although neither will be at today's game because the younger Clarke has a game.
"We told our guys we are proud of them for hanging in there," Pelphrey said. "It took a lot of heart and courage. They got challenged and they kept trying to respond. We knew there would be a lot of ups and downs and swings in the game, and there were. It was good to get a win against a quality opponent. Who knows what that win can do for us later in terms of the post-season."
Arkansas will likely start a lineup that 6-1 guard Patrick Beverley (14.3), 6-6 small forward Sonny Weems (10.5), 6-8 power forward Charles Thomas (9.0), 6-2 sophomore point guard Stefan Welsh (6.5) and 7-0 center Steven Hill (4.8).
The Razorbacks have gotten excellent efforts off the bench from 6-10 center Darian Townes (12.2), 5-10 senior point guard Gary Ervin (8.5) and 6-10 forward Michael Washington (6.5).
"I think we are an unselfish bunch, but we have to get better," Pelphrey said. "We tend to hold onto the ball too long in the halfcourt."
Pelphrey would love another up and down game as his team had with Missouri, but doubts ORU will want to play that way.
"We want to be aggressive and attack on both ends of the floor," Pelphrey said. "I don't think we can duplicate the pace (Missouri) creates, but there are a lot of similarities. We like to drive the ball, extend the floor defensively and get to the free throw line."
Arkansas vs. ORU
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