Senior-Less Night

FAYETTEVILLE — There will be no pregame festivities tonight in Bud Walton Arena.

No parents of players escorting their sons to midcourt.

No video montages chronicling the careers of Razorbacks suiting up for their final time in Fayetteville.

Tonight's visit from Ole Miss may mark Arkansas' last home game this season. But the Hogs' eighth Southeastern Conference contest in Bud Walton Arena won't be accompanied by any "senior night" festivities, still a rarity in college basketball despite teams getting increasingly younger.

The simple reason: Arkansas has no scholarship seniors, and for that matter, neither do the Rebels. Freshmen guards Courtney Fortson and Rotnei Clarke both thought the idea of dropping "senior sight" activities sounded strange.

"That's real weird," Clarke said. "It just shows the youth of our team. Corey Beck came in and said, ‘The freshmen aren't freshmen anymore, they're sophomores, and everyone else is a grade up from where they started the year.'

"So we've tried to look at that and act like we're not that young anymore."

Still, the lack of a going-away party for anyone gives a real-life example of what Arkansas coach John Pelphrey has dealt with throughout his second season. Pelphrey, who lost his one senior, Marcus Monk, to eligibility issues, simply has one of the sixth-youngest rosters in America.

Ken Pomeroy's, a college basketball research Web site, lists the experience level of every Division I basketball team. By Pomeroy's standards — seasons of experience weighted by minutes played — Arkansas ranks 339th out of 344 Division I teams.

Arkansas' opponent tonight, Ole Miss, ranks 343rd.

That Pelphrey wouldn't be saying goodbye to anyone seemed odd to him.

"It is bizarre," Pelphrey said. "It is a little unique. I don't know if I have ever been a part of that."

To both teams, the long-term implications of competing without even one senior are certainly positive. Ole Miss has mustered a 6-8 SEC mark despite its youth and despite devastating injuries to guards Chris Warren, Eniel Polynice and Trevor Gaskins.

Terrico White, a rising freshman, and junior David Huertas have overachieved in their absence.

"They are very young," Pelphrey said. "I know they're getting a lot of good players back and they're going to be absolutely awesome next year, maybe a top 15, top 20 team to start the season. They'll have a number of all-league players (back) in the backcourt, maybe even four."

Arkansas junior guard Stefan Welsh has embraced the Razorbacks' youth. Sure, it caused frustration and heartache throughout a troubling 2-12 SEC season, which included a 2-5 mark in Bud Walton Arena.

But he doesn't wish Arkansas had to send off any seniors tonight.

"(Senior night isn't) always a plus," Welsh said. "This is a different occassion. It just sends the message that we'll back at full force with a lot more experience (next season). You can rest assured that however long this season lasts, we're definitely going to get after it this offseason, from the first day."

Today's Ticket

Ole Miss at Arkansas

When: 7 p.m. TV: None.

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville.

Records: Ole Miss, 15-13, 6-8 Southeastern Conference; Arkansas Razorbacks, 14-13, 2-12.

Radio: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-AM 1290, FM 97.9, 105.3.

Coaches: Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy (60-37, third season at Ole Miss; 81-50, four seasons); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (37-25, second season at Arkansas; 117-91 overall in seven seasons).

Series: Arkansas leads 40-23 (Arkansas leads 12-6 in Fayetteville).

Last Meeting: Ole Miss won 74-65 on Jan. 14 in Oxford, Miss.

LINE: Arkansas by 4 1/2.

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