Pelphrey pre-game press event - Texas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ men’s basketball team plays host to No. 7 Texas on Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. in a game nationally televised by ESPN2. The Razorbacks are 11-1 overall following Saturday’s win over North Texas in North Little Rock. The Longhorns are 11-2. Head coach John Pelphrey met with the media on Monday to preview the game. Following is a partial transcript of that press conference.

“Texas is obviously really, really good. You don’t need me to tell you that. They have a tremendous scorer (A.J. Abrams) and a big-time player who is very athletic at the small forward spot (Damion James). (Gary) Johnson is getting better and better, (Dexter) Pittman is developing and (Connor) Atchley stretches the defense, and that’s not all of them. They have great depth and length.

“We have to be able to take care of the ball just to get good shots and we have to be better at that than we have all year.

“It would not surprise me to see them in the Final Four competing for the whole thing. I think they are that good.”

North Texas game:

“I thought North Texas played very well. We were able to go on a timely run in the second half and kind of held on. Michael Washington had a huge night, which was good.”

Arkansas-Texas rivalry:

“I have a sense for it, but I certainly have no experiences. There have been tremendous, tremendous battles. The battles were great and the players were great. I understand some of the history.”

Michael Washington – SEC Player of the Week:

“He had two big-time performances last week. In North Little Rock, he didn’t miss many shots at all. He has to continue to play hard, adjust and add to his game.”

Jason Henry, out with a knee injury:

“We’ll wait and see. He’s day-to-day. I’m a little surprised because there’s a decision to be made. He may play on Tuesday. We’ve seen him move.”

Beating Oklahoma:

“That doesn’t hurt (for confidence), but this is a different animal. Oklahoma can compete for the Final Four, too, but I think Texas is deeper up front, they are longer, and just big and athletic.”

Anticipated crowd on Tuesday:

“It’s always exciting for the Razorbacks to play at home. With the history we have with Texas, I’m sure it will be a large crowd and passionate.”

Courtney Fortson:

“When you play as much as he does, you are going to turn the ball over on occasion, take a bad shot and make a silly foul. He needs to continue to play hard and be coachable. A lot of us are still growing and getting to know each other as a team.

“If he was being careless, that would be different. I don’t get the sense that is what he’s doing.

“He makes our team better and those around him better, whether he’s getting Mike (Washington) layups and dunks, Rotnei (Clarke) and Stefan (Welsh) open three-point shots, or Michael Sanchez and Brandon Moore layups. He makes those guys better – there’s no question about it. Coming in the door, we wondered if he could do that.”

Rankings (Arkansas is receiving votes):

“I hope there comes a day when we are never outside the top 25 because I think that’s where Arkansas belongs. Once we get there, the season is not over. I’m really not consumed with that.”