State of the Hogs: Kentucky

Hawgs Illustrated publisher Clay Henry takes a look at Arkansas basketball as the trip to Kentucky approaches. State of the Hogs appears each Friday.

John Pelphrey said he would "probably not" talk to his team about his prominent place in Kentucky basketball history and other emotions before Arkansas meets the Wildcats in Rupp Arena on Saturday.

One thing is certain, senior forward Sonny Weems, perhaps the best Arkansas player, will not be the one to clue in any of his teammates about anything Kentucky before the trip to Lexington.

Weems did realize that the Arkansas coach played at Kentucky. But that was about it.

Heck, he didn't even know about movie star Ashley Judd's relationship with Kentucky basketball.

Well, that's being kind to Weems. He didn't know that Judd is a movie star, much less she often is front and center in the stands at UK games!

We'll skip those comments. They are too difficult to fathom.

Back to Pelphrey and the fact his jersey was retired following his playing career. It hangs in the rafters of Rupp Arena.

"For real?" Weems said. "It's hanging up there? I guess he's a big deal there.

"I've heard they like Coach up there. I guess they will be going crazy for him and give him an ovation, huh?"

Yeah, maybe.

"Did Sonny really say those things?" Arkansas center Steven Hill said. "OK, I'll coach him a little. They don't just love Coach up there. They think he is a god."

Hill wasn't exactly surprised at the lack of Kentucky knowlege displayed by Weems.

"He does need some history lessons sometimes," Hill said. "We have to work with him sometimes. We'll help him on this stuff. He didn't know (Pelphrey's) jersey is retired? You are kidding, right?

"We will talk to him about the atmosphere there, coach him up some, not just about Coach Pelphrey and Kentucky fans. They shoot off the fireworks there and it's really something."

It was starting to fall in place for Weems as several reporters quizzed him on Kentucky hoops. Told that Kentucky was the all-time winningest basketball program in the college game, Weems began to get the picture.

"I will admit that I don't know anything about Kentucky basketball," he said. "They didn't recruit me so I really didn't have a chance to find out things about them since I didn't get to go there in a visit. I guess I'm not much on really any kind of history."

And, this will be his first visit to Rupp since he's a two-year member of the Arkansas team after spending his first two years of college at Arkansas-Fort Smith. In the SEC, teams from the different divisions only play once a year.

No doubt, Weems knows that the Wildcats are good. He's looking forward to the game and assures the ankle tweak that sent him to the sidelines a bit early in the romp over LSU on Wednesday will not bother him Saturday.

"I'm OK," he said. "I could have gone back in against LSU if it had been needed. I roll it from time to time, but it's not going to bother me in this game. I'll be ready to go."

Weems does have at least one tie to Kentucky. Jeremy Cox, his coach at UA-FS, is an assistant on Billy Gillispie's staff.

"I talked to him this summer after he got that job," Weems said. "I haven't talked to him since. I'm sure I'll visit with him just a little bit before the game Saturday, in warmups, just say hello. But after the game starts, I won't even know he's there. I'll be focused in on the game and not on anything on the other team's bench. "I will tell you that he's important to me. He's like a father figure to me. He helped me so much. He means a lot to me."

Back to the Kentucky trip and the atmosphere in Rupp, Weems pondered what it will be like in the pre-game introductions.

"Fireworks, right?" he said. "It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it. Fireworks?"

Hawgs Daily Top Stories