Layoff Doesn't Bother Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE — Now, they must wait. The Arkansas Razorbacks must wait until Saturday to build on the momentum they amassed last week with dominant victories over Mississippi State and No. 20 Florida.

The Southeastern Conference's schedulers gave the Hogs two off weeks this season, and the second occurs this week. Arkansas won't play again until Ole Miss comes to Fayetteville on Saturday, but the Razorbacks didn't act too bummed after their 19-point pounding of the Gators.

After all, the Razorbacks responded well after their first conference off week. They won by 16 points on Jan. 26 at LSU, starting their three-game winning streak seven days after losing at Georgia.

"We're OK with it," said senior Sonny Weems, who led Arkansas (16-5, 5-2) in scoring Saturday for the third straight game. "We'll get some rest. That's always nice. And we'll come back strong for practice.

"We have 9 more games left, and we have to focus on them one at a time."

First-year Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said there was "good and bad" to being forced to take a week off after two phenomenal performances.

"Nobody's changing the schedule," he said, "so we're just going to have to roll with it."

Pelphrey said the week of practice could benefit the Hogs if they let it. He is most curious about how his Razorbacks' collective focus looks today after taking Sunday off.

"I'm really interested to see when we show up back at practice, what's going on with their attitude?" Pelphrey said. "Where's this team's attitude? Are the guys getting more hungry? Are they going to challenge themselves to go to greater heights? Or, unfortunately, are we going to have to take a step backwards here."

If the reaction of sophomore guard Patrick Beverley is any indication, the Razorbacks won't show up to Bud Walton Arena today with a cocky outlook. The Hogs still remember the loss to Appalachian State, Beverley said. They still recall the Providence debacle in Puerto Rico, and the subsequent off-day practices the next day in a humid high school gym.

They still have memories from last season, when every emotional high was usually followed by a disappointing low.

"We're confident, but we're not too confident," Beverley said. "We understand that we can get knocked off very easy. If we can just stay consistent, stay humble, and keep that edge with us, understanding that we can be beat at any time, that's what's making us play well."

Arkansas' top priority this week is to keep adding to its foundation, Pelphrey said. It's not build yet.

"Maybe a few walls are up, but there's no roof," Pelphrey said.

His players have started to embrace the key principles that Pelphrey teaches, and they comprehend what kind of foundation-building is taking place.

"The pieces are getting put on every game," senior point guard Gary Ervin said. "That's the biggest thing. We've got to keep believing in what the coaches are teaching us and keep believing in each other. Playing 40 minutes and sticking together. That's what it's all about.

"And when adversity hits the next time, we're going to take that punch and fight back."



SATURDAY'S TICKET

NO. 24 OLE MISS AT ARKANSAS

WHEN: 4:05 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Net (Cox Ch. 27)

WHERE: Bud Walton Arena

RECORDS: Ole Miss 16-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas 16-5, 5-2

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

SERIES: Arkansas leads 39-21 (11-6 in Fayetteville)

LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat Ole Miss 83-66 on Feb. 17, 2007 in Fayetteville

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