Arkansas at Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. — Arkansas has experience on the road. That statement can't be argued in any way. The Razorbacks have a half-dozen seniors, "six veterans who have been through the fire of the road and the SEC," as sophomore Stefan Welsh framed it.

But truthfully, those Hogs have been roasted along the way.

With 27 losses in its last 35 road games, Arkansas (8-1) finally competes this season on an opponent's home court today at Oklahoma (7-3). And first-year coach John Pelphrey bluntly stated he was fully cognizant of the road struggles experienced by his seniors.

"I'm very aware of that," Pelphrey said. "To me, that's a true measure of a basketball team. In terms of, if you want to compete for championships ... you have to go compete on the road.

"If you want to have a chance to compete for championships."

Make no mistake. The Razorbacks do intend to challenge for the SEC Western Division title. And this 2:05 p.m. contest on ESPN2 could offer a sneak peak as to whether the Hogs are capable.

The road has been unkind to Arkansas' seniors ever since they arrived in Fayetteville. Vincent Hunter's freshman year — the 2003-04 season — produced one road victory. Steven Hill, Charles Thomas and Darian Townes arrived the next season and were part of a 5-12 combined road record the next two seasons.

Gary Ervin and Sonny Weems joined up last season, but Arkansas still went just 2-7 in opposing arenas.

So experience can't exactly be classified as a positive here — not yet, at least, the way Weems thinks.

"We'll do a lot better on the road this year," Weems said. "We have that mindset. Every game we play is one less for the seniors. We kind of take that to heart right now."

Weems said the seniors have tried to analyze the reasons for the road troubles. Slow starts, he said, can't happen anymore. That's always been an issue, even thus far this season at home (see Oral Roberts and Missouri State). In their seven losses last season, the Razorbacks fell behind by at least nine points in the first 12 minutes.

To be sure, the Hogs want to start their road slate with an effort much better than last year's first. Then, fresh off an Old Spice Classic championship, Arkansas was blasted by Missouri, by 22 points in snowy Columbia.

Thomas said only a mere change in attitude is necessary.

"On the road, everybody's against you," senior forward Charles Thomas said. "Coach Pelphrey harps on that in practice."

He also harps on turnovers and silly fouls. Those two areas have driven Pelphrey insane. And he knows Arkansas can't beat Jeff Capel's Sooners if they don't improve in them, especially with OU being "ornery" after losing at home to Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 8.



TODAY'S TICKET

ARKANSAS AT OKLAHOMA

WHEN: 2:05 p.m. TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD (Cox Ch. 24/733)

WHERE: Lloyd Noble Center, Norman, Okla.

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 (8-1, 1st season; 88-68 overall, 6 seasons); Oklahoma, Jeff Capel (7-3, 2nd season; 102-59, 6 seasons)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 12-9 (Oklahoma leads 4-3 in Norman)



PROJECTED STARTERS

ARKANSAS (8-1)

G Stefan Welsh 6-2 So. 5.9

G Patrick Beverley 6-1 So. 12.8

F Sonny Weems 6-6 Sr. 9.4

F Charles Thomas 6-8 Jr. 8.8

C Steven Hill 7-0 Sr. 4.8



OKLAHOMA (7-3)

G Omar Leary 5-10 Jr. 6.9

G Austin Johnson 6-3 Jr. 8.1

G Tony Crocker 6-6 So. 12.1

F Blake Griffin 6-10 Fr. 13.2

C Longar Longar 6-11 Sr. 11.9

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