Pelphrey Dealing With Losses, Too

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey talks often about how his players must handle tough times with the same mindset and commitment as when the Razorbacks are winning. But he hasn't discussed much how he has dealt with the Hogs' recent stretch of nine losses in 10 games.

A reporter asked Pelphrey on Thursday how he was holding up during Arkansas' worst 10-game stretch since 1971-72.

"I'm sure it's not easy on our fans," Pelphrey said. "I know it's not easy on the coach's wife. But I've got to get up and go to work, and when things aren't going your way you have to get up and work harder, focus harder, encourage more."

Arkansas players said they continue to see that out of Pelphrey and the coaching staff. Forward Michael Sanchez said their demeanor hasn't changed despite the mounting losses. He said it keeps the Razorbacks fighting for wins.

"Coach has been one of the strongest guys I've ever seen," Sanchez said. "He talks about handling adversity and everything. As long as our coaching staff maintains their level of strength, it lets us know we can still accomplish things. ... They've been straightforward. They've been honest with us. They come out here every day busting their tails wanting to get us better no matter what the situation."

Arkansas' task won't get any easier this week, though. The Razorbacks play the top team in the Southeastern Conference, LSU (21-4, 9-1 in SEC) on Wednesday. Then they travel to play at South Carolina (18-5, 7-3), which is in a three-way tie for first in the SEC West, on Saturday.

But Pelphrey said the rough five weeks — and the upcoming challenges — haven't swayed him from feeling that the Arkansas basketball program is destined for a better future.

"Certainly a basketball season is probably a short-term perspective when you look at the whole," Pelphrey said. "Obviously I have great trust and confidence of where we're going to be some day and am excited about being part of that. But that doesn't make today easier, or when you lay your head down at night."

Home Woes

One of the most baffling part of Arkansas' struggles in SEC play has been the mounting losses at home. The Razorbacks now are 1-4 in Bud Walton Arena in conference play and the shortcomings have taken the players by surprise.

"I don't ever remember Arkansas being in a spot like this," said Sanchez, a Springdale native. "Nobody likes to lose. I know it's been tough on us. I know it's been tough on the fans. ... It has been a big shock given what we've done at the beginning of the season at home."

The Razorbacks registered big home wins against Oklahoma and Texas in nonconference play. Arkansas is 11-4 at home this season and 26-5 in two years under Pelphrey.

"Not being able to defend our home court here with the passionate fans showing up, we apologize for that," guard Rotnei Clarke said. "But it's pretty cool being able to come in, us being 1-8 (in the SEC), and still having that fanbase."

In Stitches

Sanchez is thankful for one thing this week: He won't have to wear a big bandage on his chin against LSU.

The redshirt freshman sported a bulky bandage against Kentucky after a cut on his chin at Auburn required five stitches. It was the second time Sanchez has been stitched up. He had a cut over his eye earlier this season.

"I don't want to wear that bandage again," Sanchez said. "I didn't like that. It just took up half of my face."

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