But six games remain for both teams, 37.5 percent of their conference schedules. And no Razorback, first-year coach John Pelphrey included, is in the mood to simply hand the division title over to the Bulldogs.
"Six doesn't seem like a lot (of games left)," Pelphrey said. "But wins this time of year feel like two. A lot of things can happen. Certainly we're disappointed, but we don't have a week to hang our heads.
"We don't have time to hang our heads in this league. If you do, you'll find yourself in real trouble."
Arkansas needs to pay attention to Pelphrey's message, considering much-improved LSU comes to Fayetteville on Wednesday night. And if the Razorbacks do take care of the Tigers, they can put themselves in position to make a run at Mississippi State.
The Razorbacks (17-7, 6-4) and Bulldogs (17-7, 8-2) face quite similar SEC-finishing stretches. The combined SEC record of Arkansas' final six opponents is 25-37. Mississippi State's final six conference foes are a combined 25-34.
However, the Bulldogs travel for four of their final six games, while Arkansas plays three in Bud Walton Arena and three away from Fayetteville. Both teams will encounter Auburn and LSU on their home courts and Ole Miss in Oxford.
"It's a marathon and we're not finished yet," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said after his team's 80-74 victory on Saturday. "We've ran about 20 miles of it. We've got to finish the race."
If Arkansas makes up the two-game gap to tie the Bulldogs, the determining tie-breaker will be division record because the teams split their season series. Right now, Arkansas is 5-1 against SEC Western Division teams, and Mississippi State is 6-1.
Pelphrey doesn't want his team thinking about any of these scenarios. He wants the Razorbacks focusing on one game at a time, and he doesn't care how much that sounds like coach-speak.
"I'd like to trade (records with Mississippi State)," Pelphrey said. "But all we can do is look at LSU. That's the only thing we have any chance of controlling, our preparation for LSU."
Arkansas senior Sonny Weems stood outside the Razorbacks' locker room on Saturday in Starkville and insisted the Hogs were capable of concentrating on one contest at a time. Weems said the Razorbacks should worry more about constant effort than division standings.
The lack of consistency has frustrated Weems through 10 conference games.
"If we compete for the full 40 minutes, we can beat anybody in the nation," he said.
Once that occurs, Weems said, then the Razorbacks can ponder their division championship hopes.
"Anybody can win the SEC West," Weems said. "Anything can happen. There are a lot of games left."
LSU AT ARKANSAS
WHEN: 7:05 p.m. TV: Raycom (Cox Ch. 7)
WHERE: Bud Walton Arena
RECORDS: LSU, 9-15, 2-8 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas, 17-7, 6-4
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 28-17
LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat LSU 68-52 on Jan. 26 in Baton Rouge, La.
Feb. 20 LSU
Feb. 23 at Kentucky
Feb. 27 at Alabama
March 1 Vanderbilt
March 4 at Ole Miss
March 8 Auburn
Feb. 20 at Ole Miss
Feb. 23 at South Carolina
Feb. 27 Auburn
March 1 at Florida
March 4 at Vanderbilt
March 8 LSU
On the impact MSU guard Jamont Gordon had in Saturday's game, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists:
"It tells you how good he is. He can go 1-for-9 and still almost get a triple-double."
On the two 3-pointers senior Vincent Hunter took, and missed, during the same possession late in Saturday's loss:
"Vincent's a great 3-point shooter, you know. We'll still give it to him. He was wide open. He can make those shots with his eyes closed. Obviously, he didn't make them today, but we're still going to get him the ball."
On being confident in the final minutes of Arkansas' next close game:
"That's the great thing about it. We'll be in that spot again. (The shots at Mississippi State) are some of the shots on the road that we feel will go down. We have to stay positive."
Still In The SEC Western Race
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