Originally created 11/22/06

Arkansas' preliminaries are over



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After a pair of home tuneups, Arkansas' basketball team is off to Florida for its first significant challenge of the 2006-07 season.

The Razorbacks play in the Old Spice Classic this week in Orlando, Fla. They open against Southern Illinois on Thursday, then face either Minnesota or Marist on Friday.

Arkansas will also play Sunday against an opponent to be determined.

"This is our first trip on the road and I want to make sure we have the right attitude," coach Stan Heath said. "We need to be business-like. With the team we're facing, we can't look ahead."

Southern Illinois has made the NCAA Tournament five consecutive seasons, including last season as the Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion. The Salukis (2-0) fell a few votes short of cracking the AP Top 25 this week.

Heath is leery of the Salukis' pace.

"They play a very deliberate style," he said. "It will not be a pretty game, but my concern is winning. For us, we can't get concerned with the way they play. We may have to guard them through the shot clock."

Arkansas beat Southeast Missouri State 92-52 to open the season, then defeated Stephen F. Austin 70-59 last weekend. Two newcomers have impressed early on. Freshman Patrick Beverley scored 29 points in the opener, and junior college transfer Sonny Weems scored 24 in the second game.

Heath said he hopes for more production from Charles Thomas and Darian Townes, two of the Razorbacks' top returning scorers. Thomas was held scoreless against Stephen F. Austin.

"We've seen Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems have big nights," Heath said. "Now, we need to start firing on all cylinders."