Weems' Banged-Up Knee Improves

RALEIGH, N.C. — Arkansas senior Sonny Weems practiced in a limited way Thursday in preparing for Arkansas' first-round NCAA Tournament game Friday night against Indiana. Weems said he was "90 to 95 percent" because of a right knee strain he suffered Tuesday morning.

The Razorbacks worked out early Thursday afternoon in North Carolina State's practice facility and spent 35 minutes on the RBC Center court early Thursday evening.

"My knee felt good," Weems said. "I did a little bit in practice, ran around a little bit."

When asked if he would be 100 percent tonight, Weems responded quickly.

"Yeah," Weems said. "No doubt."

There has been doubt for the past couple of days, though. Arkansas' leading scorer spent the final moments of Arkansas' first practice on Tuesday sprawled out on a training table in Bud Walton Arena.

"I did it coming around a screen in practice," Weems said. "It was a physical practice. I just bumped into a teammate."

He sat out the Razorbacks' second practice that day and took part in only portions of Arkansas' workouts on Wednesday. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey didn't seem worried after seeing Weems go through drills Thursday.

"He looks like Sonny," Pelphrey said when asked how Weems looked.

Tough Bracket

The East has been regarded by many as the toughest regional in this month's field. But before looking ahead to Tennessee, Louisville and Washington State, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the Tar Heels toughest challenges could come in Raleigh.

"The 8/9 matchup I think is the toughest by far Arkansas had a great one and Indiana was the No. 1 team in the Big Ten," said Williams, whose team will play either Arkansas or Indiana if it beats Mount St. Mary's tonight. "All that said, I can go on and on but bottom line is you have to play on game day. We are focused on St. Mary's and that's it."

The good news for North Carolina is that they won't have to leave the state on their potential path to the Final Four. If the Tar Heels win two games this weekend, they'll play in nearby Charlotte next week.

Lawson Gains Confidence

Weems' sore knee could be a concern to the Razorbacks, but North Carolina fans will be paying close attention to point guard Ty Lawson's ankle in Raleigh this weekend.

Lawson missed six games with a severe ankle sprain. He returned against Boston College on March 1 and has slowly worked his way back into shape. He played his best against Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game, scoring 12 points with 8 assists and 5 rebounds.

"I just started playing and stopped worrying so much and stop worrying about somebody going to step on it," Lawson said. "Coach (Williams) also talked to me about it. He said, ‘Go out and play and stop being scared and stop worrying about the ankle.'

Oh Brother

Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown, whose team plays top seed North Carolina tonight, is no stranger to upsets.

His younger brother, Marseilles, played at Hampton when the school knocked off No. 2 seed Iowa State in the first round in 2001.

Brown remembered his part in the upset Thursday. He spoke to his brother after the selection show that year and believed Hampton could beat Iowa State because the Cyclones didn't have a dominant big man.

Marseilles Brown hasn't returned the favor this week.

"My brother hasn't called me yet to tell me," Brown deadpanned, igniting a round of laughter in the room. "(North Carolina) has a dominant big man (Tyler Hansbrough). ... We'll show up with a rock and a slingshot, man."

New Season for Hooisers

Indiana may have struggled down the stretch, losing three of their past six games. But senior D.J. White said those problems are in the past now.

"We look at it like it's a new season, new beginning," White said. "We struggled a little bit in the past, but there's nothing we can do about it. We can't dwell on what happened behind us. All we can do is try to get better.

"We're excited to be in the NCAA Tournament. Anything can happen."

Help From Hipsher

Indiana interim coach Dan Dakich received assistance this week from friends and former Arkansas assistant coach Dan Hipsher, who spent two seasons in Fayetteville.

"I remember as we were going through the spring, he was telling me they left a really good basketball team at Arkansas," Dakich said. "He said they'd be a tough matchup for anybody."

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