FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas added to its road woes during the 59-56 loss at Alabama on Thursday night, falling to 0-7 in games outside of the state.
But there’s good news for the Razorbacks as they prepare for their next conference game today: Arkansas is back in Bud Walton Arena, where it is 11-1. And its opponent — Tennessee — is struggling on the road as well.
Arkansas (12-8, 3-4 in SEC), two days after is latest loss, will try to end a two-game slide when it plays the Volunteers (11-8, 3-4) at 3 p.m. Tennessee, which is in its second season under coach Cuonzo Martin, has won two straight at home and is trying to end an 0-5 start in road games this season.
So Arkansas coach Mike Anderson was asked if the Razorbacks would carry an extra dose of confidence into today’s game because of Tennessee’s struggles. Anderson said the only thing he’s concerned about is making sure his team continues to enjoy success in familiar surroundings after falling short on the road.
“I’m more worried about what we do as opposed to hopefully what Tennessee does,” Anderson said. “We need to find a way to protect the home court. We’ve done that so far in conference play and it’s something we want to continue to do.”
Arkansas has little choice after dropping under .500 in conference play thanks to consecutive road losses at South Carolina and Alabama.
Anderson, who now is 1-17 outside the state in two seasons with the Razorbacks, said his team played much better against the Crimson Tide. It was the first time in SEC play the Razorbacks didn’t lose a road game by more than 10 points. But the Hogs still made mistakes down the stretch that proved costly in another loss.
Arkansas plays its next game against Florida, which has cruised to a 7-0 start in conference play, Tuesday night. So there’s no room for error against the Vols.
“We just got beat at Alabama, so the premium is going to be on the next game,” Anderson said. “Let’s see if we can go and get prepared and let’s cut out some of the mistakes we had in the Alabama game so we can perform … at a high level.”
Arkansas will be on the court less than 48 hours after the Alabama loss, continuing a three-game in six-day stretch. Anderson said his team got back from Tuscaloosa, Ala., at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, leaving little time for Tennessee preparation.
Meanwhile, the Vols haven’t played since beating Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
“It’s a quick turnaround,” Anderson said. “I think there’s no question about it and hopefully our team is prepared for that.”
Tennessee, which has played all season without injured forward Jeronne Maymon (who averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds a game last season), will likely be missing a starter against the Razorbacks. Point guard Trae Golden, who is averaging 10.0 points and 3.9 assists a game, suffered a hamstring injury in the Vanderbilt loss.
Martin told the media in Knoxville, Tenn., Golden isn’t expected to play against the Razorbacks. It will leave the Vols without their primary ball-handler. Walk-on Brandon Lopez will help guards Jordan McRae and Armani Moore against the Hogs.
“It’s tough for our team,” Martin told The Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I thought he had really been assertive (lately) with the ball. So it’s tough for our team, but more importantly, it’s tough for Trae. He wants to be out there. He’s upset about it.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks would prepare as if Golden were playing today, but added the Volunteers will be a challenge even without him. He believes forward Jarnell Stokes (11.5 points, 8.3 rebounds), guard Jordan McRae (14.3 points) and the rest of the Vols will be motivated to earn their first road win of the season.
“We’re going to get their best shot,” Anderson said. “It gives us an opportunity to play at home where we play well but coming off a tough, tough loss at Alabama.
“I’m anxious to see our guys respond.”
Tennessee (12-7) at Arkansas (12-8)
• When: 3 p.m. today
• Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville
• TV/Radio: ESPN/KABZ-FM 103.7
• SEC records: Tennessee 3-3, Arkansas 3-4
• Series: Tennessee leads 16-10; last meeting Tennessee 71, Arkansas 58, on Feb. 15, 2012