BASKETBALL: Five Keys To An Arkansas Victory
Second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (65.8 points), the Razorbacks gave up 93 in Knoxville and 80 in Starkville. In the second half Saturday, they finally showed greater defensive intensity.
They need more consistent defensive effort and more commitment to a gritty attitude in order to escape an upset tonight against LSU.
"We understand that it takes a whole 40 minutes to play a basketball game," sophomore guard Patrick Beverley said.
2. ENERGIZE HOME CROWD
Beverley has a simple explanation as to why the Hogs play more inspired in front of nearly 20,000 in Bud Walton Arena.
"We feed off the crowd," Beverley said. "We have great fans and they help us. We always seem to play better at home than on the road."
The best way to make those Razorbacks fans a factor? How 'bout beating the Tigers at the "ordinary things" first-year coach John Pelphrey always preaches about - things such as grabbing loose balls, yanking down offensive rebounds and drawubg charges.
3. BE SMART WITH THE BALL
Gary Ervin's improved play lately has stabilized Arkansas offensively. The Razorbacks have committed more than 17 turnovers just once in 2008, and Arkansas' senior point guard hasn't committed more than three in a game this year, either.
The Hogs averaged only 13 turnovers in their three consecutive home victories over Mississippi State, Florida and Ole Miss.
"We have to be smarter and more cautious," Ervin said. "The more possessions we have, the better we're going to be as a team, the more points we're going to get."
4. IMPROVE AT THE LINE
The easiest shots in basketball haven't looked too simple recently for Arkansas. The Razorbacks have struggled from the free throw line in each of their past three games.
They made 19 of 32 in their home victory over Ole Miss, the last part of their three-game home winning streak. They converted 18 of 29, including just 9 of 20 in the first half, of their blowout loss at Tennessee. And they connected on 8 of 15 in their defeat at Mississippi State.
5. CUT DOWN ON FOULS
Free throws, from opponents, are also hurting the Razorbacks. Arkansas has fouled far too much this season. Pelphrey has voiced his concern on the issue on nearly a weekly basis, but his players continue to get themselves into foul trouble.
The Hogs committed 27 fouls at Tennessee and 23 at Mississippi State. The 50 combined fouls were more than in any other two-game stretch this season.
Tennessee and Mississippi State combined to make 50 free throws, as well.
LSU TIGERS (9-15, 2-8)
* COACH: Butch Pierre (1st season)
* LAST TIME OUT: LSU lost to Kentucky 67-63 on Feb. 16 in Baton Rouge, La.
* KEY INJURIES: G Dameon Mason, academics, out; F Tasmin Mitchell, left shin, out
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG
G Marcus Thornton 6-4 Junior 19.0 5.8
G Alex Farrer 6-5 Sophomore 3.0 1.6
G Garrett Temple 6-6 Junior 6.8 4.0
F Anthony Randolph 6-10 Freshman 14.5 8.6
C Chris Johnson 6-11 Junior 11.6 4.9
G Terry Martin 6-6 Junior 8.7 2.5
G Bo Spencer 6-1 Freshman 3.8 1.3
F Quinton Thornton 6-8 Junior 1.8 2.1
ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (17-7, 6-4)
* COACH: John Pelphrey (1st season)
* LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas lost to Mississippi State 80-74 on Feb. 16 in Starkville, Miss.
* KEY INJURIES: None
Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG
G Stefan Welsh 6-2 Sophomore 5.0 1.6
G Patrick Beverley 6-1 Sophomore 11.9 6.8
C Steven Hill 7-0 Senior 5.1 3.1
F Michael Washington 6-10 Sophomore 5.6 4.8
F Sonny Weems 6-6 Senior 15.0 4.8
F Charles Thomas 6-8 Senior 9.5 4.8
G Gary Ervin 6-0 Senior 9.2 2.5
F Darian Townes 6-10 Senior 11.0 4.9
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