Ervin, Bulldogs, Downplay Meeting

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas senior Gary Ervin knew he couldn't avoid the question, but tried to downplay it before Monday's practice at Bud Walton Arena.

Yes, he and the Razorbacks will play his former team when Mississippi State comes to town Wednesday. No, he's not placing any added importance on it because of his familiarity with Mississippi State's program. Or so he said.

"It's just another game," Ervin said. "I had a great experience at Mississippi State. It's a great group of guys over there, the coaching staff. ... Other than that, it's just another game on our schedule that we have to go and win."

Ervin, of course, spent two years at MSU playing for coach Rick Stansbury. He transferred to Arkansas after the 2004-05 season and, after sitting out in 2005-06, played against his former teammates three times last season.

The Ervin-MSU history has generated plenty of chatter, but Stansbury agreed with his former point guard: It's no big deal.

"We always looked at is like we were playing Arkansas," Stansbury said. "We're not playing Ervin. I think that's for you guys to write about more than anything else. We never approached it that way as coaches."

Ervin is averaging 11.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.6 turnovers against MSU. He didn't score when the Hogs played in Starkville, but got 20 points in Fayetteville.

The home game included an incident between Ervin and MSU's Charles Rhodes. Ervin was fouled hard by Rhodes in the second half and, after the two began jawing, center Steven Hill came to his point guard's defense.

"It's going to be like that," Ervin said Monday. "We're both tough teams on the defensive end. We like to bump and do some things and that was just something that happened by accident last year. Both teams are going to come out with the same attitude because we both need a win."

Production Dip

Center Darian Townes has struggled the past few games and coach John Pelphrey said the Razorbacks need the senior to return to form against the Bulldogs.

Townes is averaging 4.7 points and 3 rebounds the past three games, which is well below his season average of 10.9 points and 5.1 boards. In addition, Townes hasn't scored in double figures in five of the past six games. The lone exception was his 18-point performance against Alabama.

"He's just been OK of late," Pelphrey said. "Take the Alabama game away, I don't know how good he's been. He needs to play better. That needs to happen."

Beverley Tops League

Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley's rebounding prowess has helped him jump to the top of the Southeastern Conference in league games.

The 6-foot-1 Beverley, who grabbed a career-high 15 boards against in the LSU win, leads the league with 10.6 rebounds in five SEC games. That's better than Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado and LSU's Anthony Randolph (10.4), Alabama's Richard Hendrix (10.2) and Ole Miss' Dwayne Curtis (10).

Home Court Disadvantage?

After five SEC games, the Razorbacks have a better record on the road (2-1) than in Bud Walton Arena (1-1).

But Arkansas can change that with an important, three-game home stand against Mississippi State, Florida and Ole Miss.

"We love playing at home," Pelphrey said. "If you gave us the option, we'd rather play at home than on the road. But we also know it guarantees us nothing. We saw that with South Carolina and also a narrow escape with Alabama."

Milestone in Reach

Stansbury picked up win No. 199 against Ole Miss and will try to get his 200th at Arkansas.

Stansbury is 199-108 in his 10-year career at MSU. But the coach, who passed Richard Williams on the school's list for career wins earlier this season, said he's not concerned about reaching the 200-win mark.

"I'm just looking at Arkansas and 6-0 (in the SEC) is a whole lot more important than 200," Stansbury said.

Injury Report

MSU will likely play without a starter on Wednesday, too.

Guard Ben Hansbrough missed the Ole Miss game with mononucleosis. Stansbury said Hansbrough will be sidelined anywhere from one to three weeks.

Redshirt freshman Phil Turner started in Hansbrough's absence against Ole Miss. Reserve Riley Benock also came off the bench to score 12 points in Hansbrough's place.

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