The Rematch

Marshawn Powell

Arkansas (17-9, 8-5) will face a major challenge Saturday night at 6 p.m. when it visits No. 4 Florida (21-4, 11-2), who is still smarting from a beating in Fayetteville back on Feb. 5

Rest assured Florida's players have not forgotten the beat down Arkansas delivered to them back in Fayetteville on Feb. 5.

The Razorbacks led then-No. 2 Gators by 27 in the first half before settling for an 80-69 win at Bud Walton Arena.

The rematch is set for Saturday night at 6 p.m. in Gainesville when No. 4 and SEC leading Florida (21-4, 11-2) hosts Arkansas (17-9, 8-5) in a game that will be televised by ESPNU.

"We have a very strong desire to beat them," Florida junior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "We're ahead in the SEC, we got to keep winning to stay ahead. Obviously we're going to be ready for them because they beat us pretty good in Arkansas."

Gators head coach Billy Donovan – whose team lost at Missouri on Tuesday night – isn't buying the payback angle.

"I never worry about that," Donovan said. "We had a chance to play the game up in Fayetteville, they beat us pretty handily. To me, that's something that is behind us right now. It's not like if we all of the sudden win the game we get the Fayetteville game back. It doesn't work like that. That game is a loss. This is the next most important thing.

"I have never been a big believer in payback," Donovan added. " I don't know what that means. What do you get back? This is the next game that is in front of us. Maybe if they said listen if you win the game they're going to give you the game, maybe we'll have payback. I don't see the point out of payback."

The Razorbacks' 62-60 win over the Bulldogs Thursday was their fifth victory in six games – and moved them into a fourth-place tie in the SEC with Ole Miss and Missouri.

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson knows the challenge his team is facing this weekend.

"Well, you always talk about challenges," Anderson said. "This is the ultimate challenge. You're going into the O'Connell Center and those guys will be ready. They will. They're a very outstanding team.

"They've got five guys that can stand out there and shoot it and Patric Young in the middle," Anderson added. "When we played, we shot the ball well here. We defended, but we shot the ball well here. So now we're going to their venue. We're going to go play. We played them. They know about us and we know about them. But it will be the ultimate challenge. Yet, at the same time, it's going to be an opportunity."

Razorback sophomore guard B.J. Young knows that it is going to knock off a Florida team that has been winning its home games by an average of 22 points per contest.

"The Florida game is going to be tough," Young said. "We have already took one from them so we know they are going to be ready for us and amped up to play us again. We are just going to try and bring the same energy that we played with at home, take it on the road and see what happens."

Young made it clear that his team - which is trying to play its way into an NCAA Tournament bid – has plenty of play for as well as Florida, which had its 10-game winning streak ended with the loss at Arkansas.

"I think they will be a lot motivated," Young said. "I know I would be with breaking that streak or whatever they had. But we are going to be motivated, too, and we want to show it wasn't a fluke or whatever they say. We just need to take energy on the road and play as hard as we did here and try to get that W down there at Florida."

Donovan has a great deal of respect for Arkansas redshirt junior forward Marshawn Powell, the current SEC Player of the Week.

"He's a really good player," Donovan said. "He's one of my favorite players in the league. He has really good hands. He's a guy that can really post up. He's shooting the 3s. He makes a high percentage of those. He can put it on the floor. He does a lot of things. I think he's one of those forwards in the league that is really a complete player.

"He can do a little bit of everything," Donovan added. "A guy like him when you watch him play, wherever he catches the ball on the floor he's a scoring threat. You can't say that for a lot of great scorers. But he's one of those scorers where put the ball anywhere whether it's in the post, the elbow, the 3-point line, it's off the dribble, he can go create and make things happens. He's very talented."

Missouri scored 27 points over the last 10 minutes to rally past Florida, which led by 11 on the road on Tuesday before faltering dpwn the stretch.

"I think you've got to learn from it," Donovan said. "You've got to understand where you make mistakes, where you've got to get better. I thought we played a pretty good game. I think you have to give them credit. They made some shots and made some plays on both ends of the floor. We probably, like I said, hurt ourselves with some free throw shooting, with a couple rebounds, with a couple defensive breakdowns that they made us pay on."

Wilbekin didn't think the offense moved the ball around enough.

"I think we tried to play the right way," Wilbekin said. I wouldn't say we played our best. On offense we tried to move the ball around, tried to get the open shots. But I think we did a little too much of staying on the perimeter. We didn't attack as much as we should've or get the ball in the post. As far as defense, we kind of let down on a couple of plays late in the second half, kind of in a row a couple of possessions and broke down that really hurt us."

Anderson said his team has to do several key things to win at Florida, who leads the league by a game over Alabama and two over Kentucky.

"Same thing (as) here," Anderson said. "We've got to defend. We've got to make shots. They're a terrific shooting team. They're a terrific rebounding team. They're a good defensive team. But you've got to make shots and you've got to get to the free-throw line. You can turn the ball over. They'll press just like we do. So it's a very good basketball team and one of the highest scoring teams in our league. They shoot the basketball so we're going to really have to defend."

Anderson said he is not talking to his team about what it would take to get into the NCAA Tournament yet.

"I want these guys to always stay focused on the task at hand and that's get better every day," Anderson said. "That's the only thing we can control. You win games, all that stuff will take care of itself.

"…Hopefully they can just see things through my eyes and that is every game is a big game," Anderson added. "Every practice is a big practice for us to get better. And we've got a quick turnaround going to Florida. But we've got opportunities. We've got opportunities to really do some things that are going to put us in great position in our conference."

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