BASKETBALL: Five Keys To An Arkansas Victory

1. NO MORE ERRATIC ERVIN Here's one word that defines the performance of Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin during Southeastern Conference play: consistency. That alone explains how far the 6-foot senior has come this season.

Known throughout his career for his inconsistency, Ervin is leading the Razorbacks with his, mostly, astute decision-making. He is back in the starting lineup now and hasn't committed more than three turnovers in a game since Dec. 12.

On the road, in hostile Rupp Arena, the Hogs will need to lean on Ervin's experience.

"I've been trying to not force things," Ervin said. "There were like four 3-pointers in a row I could've taken against LSU, but I didn't. I'm just trying to play smart basketball."

2. WILL WEEMS BOUNCE BACK?

Eleven points is not an output to be upset about. Sonny Weems was, however, disappointed in his 4-for-11 effort Wednesday night against LSU that resulted in his lowest point total since Dec. 22.

The SEC's third-leading scorer during conference play (18.3), Weems must get closer to his average for Arkansas to stand a chance this afternoon. The 6-foot-6 senior has nailed at least two 3-pointers in 12 straight games and has scored in double figures in 16 consecutive contests.

3. KEEP UP THE INTENSITY

The Razorbacks couldn't do this two years ago during their last trip to Lexington, Ky. They stormed out to an early 18-point lead and led by 12 at halftime. But Kentucky came back "slowly, but surely," Arkansas senior Steven Hill said.

The two-point defeat was one of many devastatingly close road losses the past few seasons for Arkansas.

"We keep saying this, but it's so true," Weems said. "We have to play hard for a full 40 minutes."

4. CUT DOWN ON FOULS

Arkansas made some progress Wednesday night. The Razorbacks committed 17 fouls, still too high a number for John Pelphrey but an improvement nonetheless. Plus, Charles Thomas avoided fouling out for the third consecutive game.

The Hogs must cut down even more on their fouls, though, considering how well Kentucky shoots free throws. The Wildcats shoot 75.3 percent from the line, best in the SEC, and Wildcats senior Ramel Bradley leads the conference at 85.8 percent.

5. CREATE EASY POINTS

Just two SEC teams have committed more turnovers than Arkansas during league play — Mississippi State and Kentucky. The Wildcats are turning the ball over 14.8 times in SEC games.

Arkansas can't just force turnovers this afternoon. The Hogs must force "bad turnovers," like the 16 miscues that resulted in 29 points Wednesday night against LSU.

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (18-7, 7-4)

TEAM GLANCE

• COACH: John Pelphrey (1st season)

• LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas beat LSU 87-61 on Feb. 20 in Fayetteville

• KEY INJURIES: None

LINEUPS

PROBABLE STARTERS

Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG

G Gary Ervin 6-0 Senior 9.5 2.6

G Patrick Beverley 6-1 Sophomore 11.8 6.9

C Steven Hill 7-0 Senior 5.1 3.1

F Michael Washington 6-10 Sophomore 5.6 4.7

F Sonny Weems 6-6 Senior 14.9 4.7

KEY RESERVES

F Charles Thomas 6-8 Senior 9.3 4.7

F Darian Townes 6-10 Senior 11.0 5.0

G Stefan Welsh 6-2 Sophomore 5.2 1.6

KENTUCKY WILDCATS (14-10, 8-3)

TEAM GLANCE

• COACH: Billy Gillispie (1st season)

• LAST TIME OUT: Kentucky beat Georgia 61-55 on Feb. 19 in Lexington, Ky.

• KEY INJURIES: Sophomore guard Jodie Meeks, strained hip flexor, questionable

LINEUPS

PROBABLE STARTERS

Name Ht. Cl. PPG RPG

G Ramel Bradley 6-2 Senior 15.8 4.6

G Joe Crawford 6-5 Senior 16.8 3.7

F Ramon Harris 6-6 Sophomore 3.8 3.3

F Mark Coury 6-8 Sophomore 2.4 2.2

C Patrick Patterson 6-8 Freshman 16.6 7.7

KEY RESERVES

G Jodie Meeks 6-4 Sophomore 8.8 2.6

F Perry Stevenson 6-9 Sophomore 5.0 4.2

F Derrick Jasper 6-6 Sophomore 3.3 5.3

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