No. 14 Vandy at Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE — Couldn't lose again. Those three words defined the turnarounds the past two seasons for Arkansas and could define this year's erratic Razorbacks. In 2006 and 2007, the Hogs messed around for most of their Southeastern Conference schedule, beating teams they shouldn't, losing games they shouldn't.

Up, down, up, down. The Razorbacks were like a volatile stock — high risk and high payoff — until they had lost so many games, they simply couldn't afford another.

So they embraced this reality: They couldn't lose again, not if they wanted a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Suddenly urgent and intense, Arkansas won six straight down the stretch in 2006 and five straight in 2007.

The Hogs likely must spark a similar streak today against No. 14 Vanderbilt to hold on to hopes of an at-large bid to this year's NCAA Tournament.

"We feel the same way (this year)," Weems said. "We think it's a must to win these last (three) games going into the SEC Tournament, and we want to make it to that championship, and increase our (NCAA Tournament) chances."

So, it's apparent the Razorbacks (18-9, 7-6) realize the predicament they face.

In reality, Arkansas could probably wait one more game. The Hogs did last season, when they lost to Tennessee in their 14th SEC game to fall to 5-9 in the league before winning five straight. And If Arkansas wins at Ole Miss, beats Auburn at home to close the regular season and topples at least one foe in the SEC Tournament, a loss to Vandy could be overcome.

But Arkansas coach John Pelphrey indicated this week that he didn't believe the Hogs could put off turning their season around. He also said he didn't plan to speak to his team about the NCAA Tournament picture in detail at this time.

"I'd like to see them focus on the right things and just play ball," Pelphrey said. "Certainly throughout the course of a season, we talk about a lot of things with regards to postseason play and seeding for the SEC Tournament.

"But right now I think we need to focus on our job and our responsibilities and play as hard as we possibly can."

Facing the Commodores right now seems like a tough break, especially since Vanderbilt (24-9, 9-4) comes to Bud Walton Arena fresh off its 72-69 win Tuesday night over No. 1 Tennessee.

But remember, two of the Razorbacks' late-season wins last year came against Kevin Stallings' bunch. Stallings said Arkansas was a bad fit for Vanderbilt last season.

"I hope it's not as bad this year," Stallings said.

If the Razorbacks don't show up with the type of intensity they flashed down the stretch the past two seasons, it won't be nearly as awful for Vanderbilt.

"We really have to have a sense of urgency to win these last few games," Arkansas senior Steven Hill said.

Just like 2006 and 2007.

TODAY'S TICKET

NO. 14 VANDERBILT AT ARKANSAS

WHEN: 3:05 p.m. TV: Raycom (Cox Ch. 7)

WHERE: Bud Walton Arena

RECORDS: Vanderbilt, 24-4, 9-4 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas, 18-9, 7-6

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: Vanderbilt, Kevin Stallings (168-112, 9th season; 291-175, 16 seasons); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (18-9, 1st season; 98-76, 6 seasons)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 13-7 (8-1 in Fayetteville)

LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat Vanderbilt 72-71 on March 9, 2007 in Atlanta in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament

They Call It The Streak

Arkansas went on long winning streaks late the last two seasons to make the NCAA Tournament. The Hogs won six in a row late in 2006 and five straight late in 2007.

Consecutive wins in 2006

Opponent Score

Florida 85-81 (OT)

Alabama 65-63

at Tennessee 73-69

Mississippi State 80-70

at Georgia 74-57

vs. Georgia* 80-67

Consecutive wins in 2007

Opponent Score

Mississippi State 67-58

at Vanderbilt 82-67

vs. South Carolina* 82-52

vs. Vanderbilt* 72-71

vs. Mississippi State* 81-72

* — Southeastern Conference Tournament games

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