Hogs' Break Comes At The Right Time

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey could sense his players needed a few days to rest their bodies and get their minds right.

It seems this week's layoff has helped, especially with the Razorbacks in the midst of a three-game losing streak that has shaken their confidence and spoiled a 12-1 start to the season.

"I think we needed a long week," Pelphrey said Thursday afternoon. "I'd say (more) mentally than physically."

So far, the Southeastern Conference schedule has taken a toll on the Razorbacks (12-4, 0-3 SEC), who have lost consecutive games to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Florida by an average of 12.7 points. But Pelphrey said his players have benefited from not having a midweek game this week, giving them six days to prepare for Saturday's game against Auburn in Bud Walton Arena.

While he said Monday's practice wasn't up to standard, Pelphrey said he was impressed with the attitude and hustle he saw from his players on Wednesday. The Hogs didn't practice Sunday or Tuesday.

"I thought we had everybody, for the first time in a few days, diving on the floor a little bit, getting in there and competing, chasing rebounds (on Wednesday)," Pelphrey said. "It was like the practices during (winter) break."

Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke, who's struggling through a shooting slump, said the six-day hiatus came at a good time.

"I think it's helped us because it's let us rest our bodies a little bit and get back focused to what we need to be doing," Clarke said. "We know we're not completely out of this race, but we do need to get some wins."



Clark's Turn

Knowing that his role on the team is expected to increase, Arkansas forward Andre Clark admitted he's taken a different approach to practice this week.

The freshman has played sparingly this season, but he's expected to see his minutes go up in the wake of Brandon Moore's arrest last Sunday on charges of driving while intoxicated.

With Moore suspended indefinitely, Pelphrey said he'll turn to Clark to come off the bench and add some depth in the paint.

"I look at it as an opportunity to show everybody what I can really do. It's just a great opportunity," said Clark, who's averaging only 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game.

"So I look at it as a big opportunity and a chance for me to show the fans and the coaching staff that I can play at this level."

Pelphrey said Clark is still trying to understand the intensity needed in practice. But the 6-foot-9, 218-pound forward has impressed Pelphrey with his ability to score in the paint, make a face-up jump shot or grab "a rebound no one else on our team can get."

"I feel like I'm ready to get in, whether it be five minutes in the game, 10 minutes in the game," Clark said.



Tough Turnaround

Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said Thursday he believed the Tigers' game at Arkansas would cap their most challenging two-game stretch during SEC play.

The Tigers (11-7, 1-3) lost 73-64 at Kentucky on Wednesday night.

"It'll be difficult," Lebo said. "You've got the travel. And then you add in the times, playing the late game Wednesday and the early game Saturday (12:05 p.m.). Then again, every team is going to have to do two in a row on the road."

"We'll definitely see what we're made of."



Moore's Reaction

While Pelphrey said he didn't have a timetable in his head for Moore's return, he indicated that he expected Moore to respond properly to his suspension.

"I would be surprised if Brandon does anything but work hard, take his punishment and be tremendously sorry for the mistake he made," Pelphrey said.



Knee Trouble

Pelphrey said freshman guard Jason Henry's right knee was still giving him some problems. He said he has spent considerable time trying to convince Henry to get more serious about spending time with trainers.

In three games since returning from arthroscopic surgery, Henry has scored 26 points, including a 19-point effort at Ole Miss.

"His knee was setting him back (Wednesday)," Pelphrey said. "He was dragging it a bit in practice."

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