"As I've said prior to some of those games, I really felt like Steven was practicing terrific," Pelphrey said Thursday morning on the Southeastern Conference basketball coaches teleconference. "We just needed to get that performance into the games. He's really done that and stepped up. That's what you expect a senior to do."
In his last five games, Hill has put up his best numbers this season. He scored a season-high 15 points against South Carolina. He had nine points and three blocks at Georgia. He swatted five shots at LSU. He posted nine points and six rebounds against Mississippi State. And he had five points, four rebounds and two blocks against Florida.
That comes out to an average of 8.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in Arkansas' last five contests. Not all-SEC numbers, by any means, but much improved. Hill's improved ability to stay out of foul trouble has fueled the stretch.
Hill has registered four of his six 20-plus minute outputs in the Razorbacks' last five games.
"I'm just trying to play smarter," Hill said earlier this week. "I have to watch out and not be too aggressive all the time."
Pelphrey didn't hide his worry entering this week. He wasn't sure how his Razorbacks would react to their three-game winning streak. Would they show up for practice with a cocky attitude? Or would they embrace Pelphrey's request to come back with their "hard hats and lunch pails" as their coach always says?
Early indications are for the latter, Pelphrey said, but no way to know for sure, though.
"We certainly hope (to avoid a letdown)," Pelphrey said. "The only way to tell is to get out there and if we win then obviously we'll all say it wasn't a letdown. If we don't, I guess we'll say it was a letdown.
"The practices have been hard and physical, and the focus still seems to be in the right place."
Couldn't blame Rob Evans if the Arkansas assistant coach experiences some emotional moments Saturday. Evans served as Ole Miss' head coach for five season, recording an 86-81 record from 1993-98.
Evans, though, said he didn't expect to be distracted in any way on Saturday.
"To me, I have a lot of memories from Ole Miss," Evans said. "But at this stage of the game, it's just a ball game for me. That's the way it is. I have a lot of people there, a lot of friends, a lot of memories. But I'm at the University of Arkansas now, and we're trying to get things done here. All the emotions, I'll put those aside."
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
MEN'S BASKETBALL: Hill Bringing Practice Play
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