FAYETTEVILLE — Most mornings after a Southeastern Conference game, Steven Hill wakes up knowing he competed the day before. Bumps, bruises, even some scrapes and scabs show up on the 7-foot senior center's body.
But Sunday morning, Hill anticipates more piercing, more noticeable after effects.
"It always seems to be a physical battle with Ole Miss," Hill said. "Every year I've been here, they've had many big, physical guys on the inside. It'll be nasty at times. SEC play is like that in general, but with Ole Miss, you can always feel the physicality the next few days."
While not openly rooting for injuries or anything, first-year Arkansas coach John Pelphrey wouldn't mind if Hill's frontcourt teammates joined him in being sore awhile Sunday.
Ole Miss (16-4, 3-4) comes to Fayetteville for a 4:05 p.m. matchup today in Bud Walton Arena. And the Razorbacks (16-5, 5-2) realize they have no chance at a fourth straight victory without consistent toughness against the Rebels' powerful forwards and centers.
"They're big, strong, athletic and physical and they rebound so well," Pelphrey said. "They rebound at an alarming rate. It probably will be the biggest challenge of the year for the frontcourt."
It's a welcomed test by the Hogs, who rank second in the SEC in rebounding margin behind Ole Miss.
The matchup has provided intrigue the past couple of seasons because of the different nature of each backcourt. Arkansas has athletic forwards and centers. Hill, sophomore Michael Washington and seniors Charles Thomas and Darian Townes all stand at least 6-foot-10 and weigh less than 250 pounds.
Their collective athleticism has given Ole Miss fits in recent seasons.
"We don't have 6-10, 6-11 super-athletes," second-year Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We've got physical guys in that 6-8, 240 to 260 range. So we have to be physical at the basket. That's one of the things we've sorely missed with the absence of Jermey Parnell. He's another big body that we can throw at people along our front line."
Parnell, a 6-8, 245-pound senior, has missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain. He may or may not play today.
But Arkansas is far more worried about seniors Dwayne Curtis (6-8, 280) and Kenny Williams (6-8, 240). Curtis ranks second in the SEC in rebounding with 8.9 per game, and Williams is seventh at 7.7.
"Those two guys just won't give up on the ball," Hill said. "They'll make you work and they'll make you hurt."
Now, this contest isn't all about the tallest men on the court. Talented guards from both teams — such as Arkansas' Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems and Ole Miss' Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice — possess the ability to explode for 30 points.
Kennedy, however, knows today's victor will win because of its attitude.
"The first thing we have to do is be physical," Kennedy said. "We have to come out with the right mindset. Our approach is the most important. We have to understand that in order to have a chance to be successful we have to come with very physical and aggressive."
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
COACHES: Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy (37-17, 2nd season; 58-30, 3 seasons); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (16-5, 1st season; 96-72, 6 seasons)
SERIES: Arkansas leads 39-21 (11-6 in Fayetteville)
LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat Ole Miss 83-66 on Feb. 17, 2007 in Fayetteville
Patrick Beverley, 6.9
Charles Thomas, 5.0
Darian Townes, 4.9
Michael Washington, 4.8
Dwayne Curtis, 8.9
Kenny Williams, 7.7
Eniel Polynice, 5.4
Jermey Parnell, 3.5
Ole Miss at Arkansas
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