January 9, 2009

Pelphrey talks Mississippi State

No team in the country has caught the country off-guard more than perhaps the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Hogs are 12-1 this season with marquee wins over Oklahoma and Texas and have won 10 straight games. Arkansas and head coach John Pelphrey will now take their winning ways into conference play opening up with Mississippi State on Saturday night.

"This is going to be a very challenging opening weekend for us," Pelphrey said. "I just have tremendous respect for Coach (Rick) Stansbury and what he has been able to accomplish. He is just a great, great coach. Obviously he has a program now that has guys to come and go that are very good players. Those players are hard-nosed and tough and play on the defensive end the right way. So it's a very difficult opening weekend for us."

The Hogs lost seven letterwinners from a season ago, four of which were starters. Arkansas lost guard Patrick Beverly, center Steven Hill and forwards Charles Thomas and Sonny Weems, all starters a season ago.

"We are not the only ones that have lost a lot," Pelphrey said. "I don't know if anyone lost as much as we did in terms of six seniors. That was a devastating blow but everybody lost a lot. Last year Mississippi State had some great, great players that aren't there now in (Ben) Hansbrough, (Charles Rhodes) and Jamont Gordon. Those guys were awesome."

The only starter the Hogs have returning is junior guard Stefan Welsh, who is averaging 14 points per game this season.

So how has Pelphrey turned his youthful Arkansas team into a SEC West contender?

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