Arkansas vs. Missouri State

FAYETTEVILLE — Without prompting, Arkansas coach John Pelphrey offered up an assessment of his 6-1 Razorbacks at his Sunday news conference.

He relayed the same message earlier in the day to his team, which practiced twice in preparing for tonight's home game against Missouri State. But by uttering his beliefs publicly, the first-year coach put his Hogs even further on notice.

"My concern right now with this basketball team is I think we need to see more progress," Pelphrey said. "I don't think our progress has been enough. I personally felt our attitude was bad (Saturday). We need to have better focus, and a better ability to get to the next play."

The Razorbacks struggled to do so Saturday, when they fell behind early and needed to rally to defeat Oral Roberts by 11 points. And Pelphrey spoke Sunday like someone who realized that a similar performance tonight could result in a loss.

Missouri State, 4-1 this season, is seasoned. The Bears are talented. And they are unfazed by a setting such as Bud Walton Arena.

"This is our greatest challenge to date," Pelphrey said. "They'll play as hard as any team we've faced."

One of the Bears' most defining aspects is their consistently-high level of intensity, Pelphrey said. On the other hand, Arkansas' has seen numerous peaks and valleys not only this season, but also in the midst of individual games.

"With the way we've played up until this point in time, there's no 40-minute period we've put together that puts us in a great situation to win this game," Pelphrey said.

The Razorback will receive a boost of energy that could help — senior Sonny Weems comes back from a one-game suspension tonight. But his return won't automatically turn Arkansas into a consistently hard-working unit. Even with Weems, the Razorbacks have experienced costly lulls of effort.

Saturday's opening seven minutes present a perfect example, when ORU scored the game's first 10 points.

"This time, we have to come out in those first four minutes and be the aggressor and give them our first punch," point guard Gary Ervin said.

Charles Thomas, one of six Arkansas seniors, believes Pelphrey has been upset because the Razorbacks are still learning what kind of continuous effort is being demanded. The Hogs have progressed, Thomas said. He truly thinks they are not the same collection of players Pelphrey first met back in April.

Just give it time, he urged.

"I think it's been a slow process, and we know the coaches haven't been happy with it," Thomas said. "At the same time, we can see we're getting better, it's just not at the pace they'd like. But everybody's on the right page. Everybody has both of their feet in the circle like Coach Pelphrey wants."

Thus far, though, that hasn't sufficed for Pelphrey.



WHEN: 7:05 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Net (Cox Ch. 27)

WHERE: Bud Walton Arena

RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3

COACHES: Arkansas, John Pelphrey (6-1, 1st season; 86-68 overall, 6 seasons); Missouri State, Barry Hinson (4-1, 9th season; 192-125, 11 seasons)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 16-5 (9-1 in Fayetteville)



G Spencer Laurie 6-1 Sr. 5.3

G Justin Fuehrmeyer 6-0 So. 4.5

C Drew Richards 6-9 Sr. 11.0

F Deven Mitchell 6-5 Sr. 17.0

F Dale Lamberth 6-5 Sr. 15.3


G Stefan Welsh 6-2 So. 6.1

G Patrick Beverley 6-1 So. 14.1

C Steven Hill 7-0 Sr. 4.4

F Charles Thomas 6-8 Jr. 8.6

F Sonny Weems 6-6 Sr. 10.5

— OR —

G Gary Ervin 6-0 Sr. 9.6


Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said at his Sunday news conference that senior Sonny Weems would play in tonight's game against Missouri State. Pelphrey suspended Weems for Arkansas' 62-51 win over Oral Roberts on Saturday because of a "violation of team rules" related to an academic issue.

Weems wasn't allowed to practice last Thursday and Friday but returned to practice Sunday. Pelphrey said he wasn't yet sure whether Weems would start tonight.

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