FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey has no trouble pinpointing the reason for the Razorbacks' recent success.
The 82-69 loss at Georgia on Jan. 19. He said the lackluster performance left a bad taste in Arkansas' mouth and forced it to regroup. It was the catalyst for three straight wins by 16 points or more.
"That's where things changed and these guys get the credit for that," Pelphrey said. "There was a collective decision made by those young men that they're going to be a basketball team. They're not going to be consumed by who scores. Not going to be consumed by whose name is in the headlines."
But there is one question Pelphrey couldn't answer as the Razorbacks (16-5, 5-2 in Southeastern Conference) began preparing for Saturday's game against Ole Miss (16-4, 3-4) earlier this week.
Can the string of success continue?
"If they stay where we are, if we can do that, then I think we'll have a chance to compete in every game that we have the rest of the way," Pelphrey said. "If not, there will still be some disappointments in terms of how hard we play and what type of basketball team we could be or look like."
If there is one thing the Razorbacks have been known for the past few years, it's their maddening bouts of inconsistency. Poor play has been followed by stunning success. Solid performances have been derailed by inexplicably weak efforts.
So when Arkansas closes a three-game homestand against the Rebels, it's unclear how the Razorbacks will respond. Especially since Arkansas has had a week off to reflect on its three wins.
Pelphrey said that has been his biggest concern.
"The hardest thing sometimes for any of us to deal with is success," Pelphrey said. "We'll certainly keep encouraging those guys what's happened in the past is in the past. If you want to gain preparation from it, do it. If you want to have confidence from it, that's fine, too. But it will have no bearing on your next performance."
Pelphrey believes the Razorbacks have managed to ignore any pats on the back with intense practices this week. Arkansas took Sunday off, but has been on the court the past four days preparing for an Ole Miss team that recent spent time in the Top 25.
Saturday's game will pit the top two rebounding teams in the SEC and Pelphrey said Ole Miss will be a handful. There's added importance on picking up a home win, too, because the Razorbacks play four of their next five games on the road.
There are no guarantees, but center Steven Hill is confident the Razorbacks recent string of success will continue against Ole Miss.
If, of course, they remember the disappointment of the Georgia loss.
"We don't want to get too high or too low," Hill said. "Coach always stresses that. We don't want to get too down on ourselves after a loss. Whenever we've won a couple in a row like we have, we don't want to get too confident in ourselves.
"We just want to keep working like we have and hopefully the winning will continue."
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