Texas' Barnes Respects Arkansas' Youth

Texas head coach Rick Barnes expects his Longhorns (11-2) will have all they want with youthful Arkansas (11-1) when the two teams meet Tuesday night at 8:05 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.

Rick Barnes has taken all 10 of his Texas basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament.

And he said Sunday that two of those squads looked just like fast-starting Arkansas, 11-1 heading into its non-conference finale against his No. 8 Longhorns on Tuesday.

"I think John (Pelphrey's) done a great job with them," said Barnes, 258-95 as Texas' coach. "They remind me of those teams I had with a lot of young players. You can tell, he's been simple with them and demanded the basic things he wants done, like playing hard defense. That does wonders for a team.

"Of course, beating a team like Oklahoma helps, too."

Barnes referenced the 2001 and 2007 seasons for comparisons to an Arkansas team on a nine-game winning streak.

Freshmen Brian Boddicker, Royal Ivey, Brandon Mouton and James Thomas contributed heavily in 2000-01, when Texas went 25-9 before a first-round NCAA tourney loss.

Freshmen Kevin Durant, Damion James and Justin Mason helped the Longhorns to a 25-10 mark and the NCAA tourney's second round in 2006-07.

Barnes didn't rebuild those seasons; he reloaded.

"We wanted to establish here that we could lose players and not take a step back the year after," Barnes said. "We've been able to do that, and John has put some things together where it could be possible there.

"Some people think that just because you play freshmen, you can't win. I don't believe that."

That's why Barnes said he wouldn't let Texas (11-2) underestimate the Razorbacks. He also said the Longhorns wouldn't take Arkansas more seriously because of the schools' storied rivalry.

The old Southwest Conference rivals meet for the 150th time Tuesday. Barnes insisted his players had no concept of what the rivalry used to mean. He appreciates the importance of Arkansas-Texas to many fans on both sides, as does Pelphrey.

But Barnes realizes Tuesday night is more about stopping a young bunch of Razorbacks, who are performing beyond their experience level, than anything else. He pointed out that two juniors -- Stefan Welsh and Michael Washington -- lead the way for Arkansas, but Barnes also mentioned the impact of freshman point guard Courtney Fortson.

"Fortson's so physical and plays so hard," Barnes said. "He does a great job of keeping the dribble alive and making plays, like special point guards do. He makes everyone around him better."

Barnes' young teams in 2000-01 and 2006-07 succeeded, he said, because of their toughness, resolve and resiliency. Arkansas showed all of that Saturday in rallying back to beat North Texas in what many termed a trap-game between OU and Texas.

"That's one thing this team has over (last year's)," Pelphrey said. "I think this team is tougher. Certainly, we're not as physically talented. We don't have the unbelievable depth in the frontcourt. But I do think these guys are tougher."

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Texas' Atchley Questionable For Arkansas Game

Texas starting forward Connor Atchley hurt his tongue during the Longhorns' 78-43 victory over Appalachian State on Friday, and his status for Tuesday's game against Arkansas is unknown.

Atchley, a 6-foot-10, 228-pound senior forward, was fouled hard going to the basket early in Friday's second half and needed 30 stiches for his tongue.

He didn't return to practice Saturday or Sunday but will travel with the Longhorns when they leave today for Fayetteville. Texas coach Rick Barnes said Atchley has experienced a lot of pain. Gary Johnson, a 6-6 sophomore, would likely start in Atchley's place.

Tuesday's Ticket

No. 8 Texas at Arkansas

WHEN: 8:05 p.m. TV: ESPN2 (Cox Ch. 24, Cox HD Ch. 733)

WHERE: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville

RADIO: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-AM 1290, FM 105.3

RECORDS: Texas Longhorns, 11-2; Arkansas Razorbacks, 11-1

COACHES: Texas, Rick Barnes (11th season); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (second season)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 84-65

LAST MEETING: Texas beat Arkansas 80-76 on Dec. 20, 2006, in Austin, Texas


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