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story.lead_photo.caption Mike Anderson, Arkansas head coach, makes a call in the second half against Texas A&M Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, during the game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. - Photo by Ben Goff

ST. LOUIS -- The Arkansas Razorbacks will play their 50th SEC Tournament game tonight when they take the court at Scottrade Center.

It will be the 36th time Coach Mike Anderson has been on the Razorbacks bench for the event.

Anderson was with the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville for its first 24 SEC Tournament games -- 23 as an assistant to Nolan Richardson and one game as the interim head coach in 2002.

Since returning to Arkansas for the 2011-2012 season, Anderson has coached in 11 SEC Tournament games with the 12th being tonight.

"I think it's a spectacular event, especially back in the early days when it was played at the Georgia Dome with 30,000 some odd people there -- and obviously we had a strong continent of Razorback fans," Anderson said. "So I'm talking to the Razorback fans: I want to see you in St. Louis.

"The SEC Tournament was a great, great happening when you talk about the teams that were in it, the type of players that were in it. And I think right now with the way these teams are this year, it's going to be an even more exciting tournament.

"Why I say that is, you can say this team here will win it, that team will win it. Whoever gets hot at the right time."

The Razorbacks have a 24-25 SEC Tournament record, including 1-6 in championship games.

Arkansas' title came in 2000, when the Razorbacks needed to win to earn an automatic bid to play in the NCAA Tournament. The six times the Razorbacks lost in the championship game, they received an NCAA at-large bid.

Arkansas entered the 2000 SEC Tournament 15-14, including 7-9 in conference games.

The Razorbacks hadn't won more than two consecutive SEC games during the regular season -- and they only did that once -- but they won four in a row in Atlanta by beating Georgia 71-64, No. 16 Kentucky 86-72, No. 10 LSU 69-67 and Auburn 75-67.

"We just got hot," Anderson said. "That's the year Joe Johnson became eligible at the semester, and we kind of rode his back. It was four games in four days, and our guys rose to the occasion.

"Each and every game I think our guys got better. Their confidence grew in that setting."

Anderson has led the Razorbacks to the SEC Tournament championship game two of the previous three seasons, with Arkansas losing to Kentucky 78-63 in 2015 and 82-65 last year.

The Razorbacks are 13-2 in the quarterfinals, the round they're playing in tonight.

Porter Jr. playing

Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter Jr., the No. 1 recruit in the nation, will play today, Tigers Coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters Wednesday.

It technically isn't Porter Jr.'s Missouri debut, but it will feel like it. He played only the first two minutes of the season opener against Iowa State.

After leaving the game, it was determined Porter Jr. needed back surgery. He was expected to miss the rest of the season, but he received medical clearance to return to practice recently.

There was speculation Porter Jr. might play last week against Vanderbilt or Arkansas. Instead he continued to sit out.

Martin said Porter Jr. won't start today, but he will be part of the rotation.

"He said, 'Coach, I think I'm ready to go,' " Martin said of a talk he had with Porter Jr. on Tuesday. "That's what it always was for me. If he would have never said it all season I would have been fine with that, too.

"It had to be completely up to him, to say, 'Coach, I'm completely ready to go. I feel good about it.'

"I didn't want him to feel any pressure of playing in the game. I know you hear a lot of stuff from the outside, and he probably hears a lot of stuff, 'The team needs you, wants you to play.'

"Of course we'd love to have him on the floor, but I wanted it to be about him feeling good about that. The great thing about him is he said, 'Coach, I want to help the team.' It wasn't about, 'I want to do this, I want to do that. I want to help the team win games and whatever that takes.' "

Porter Jr.'s return is a major lift with Missouri having just seven other available scholarship players.

Modica a Legend

Jonathon Modica, a Smackover native who ranks 12th on the Arkansas all-time scoring list with 1,589 points from the 2002-2003 through 2005-2006 seasons, will be honored at halftime of Arkansas' game tonight as the UA's SEC Legend.

Rob Evans, a former Razorbacks assistant coach, was honored Wednesday night as Ole Miss' SEC Legend. John Brady, a former coach at Arkansas State University, is being honored as LSU's SEC Legend tonight when the Tigers play Mississippi State.

Short prep time

The Razorbacks didn't know their opponent tonight until the end of the South Carolina-Ole Miss game on Wednesday night.

Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said that's not a problem because the Razorbacks focus on themselves, not their opponent.

"Well, we always talk about what we do," he said. "Throughout this year, we don't just prepare for one particular team. We're preparing for everyone each and every day we go out.

"The things that we do, we're preparing for whether it be South Carolina, we're also preparing for Ole Miss. We're more worried about ourselves right now, in terms of how we can get better."

At Scottrade

Arkansas is playing at Scottrade Center for the second time, but it will be the seventh game in the facility for Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson.

Anderson's Alabama-Birmingham team lost to Kansas in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in 2004, and his Missouri teams were 2-3 against Illinois in Scottrade Center in the annual Braggin' Rights between the Tigers and Illini.

In the Razorbacks' previous game there, Louisville beat Arkansas 96-66 on Nov. 17, 2009.

That game featured a matchup of Louisville Coach Rick Pitino and Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey, who played for Pitino at Kentucky.

At a glance

WHAT SEC Tournament second round WHEN Approximately 8:30 p.m. today WHERE Scottrade Center, St. Louis RECORD Arkansas 21-10 RADIO Razorback Sports Network TV SEC Network


POS. NAME, HT, YR PPG RPG G Jaylen Barford, 6-3, Sr. 17.9 3.9 G Daryl Macon 6-3, Sr. 17.1 2.8 G Anton Beard 6-0, Sr. 9.6 2.6 F Daniel Gafford 6-11, Fr. 12.1 6.2 F Adrio Bailey, 6-6, So. 4.0 2.6 COACH Mike Anderson (149-84 in seventh season at Arkansas, 349-182 overall in 16th season) CHALK TALK If Arkansas wins tonight, the Razorbacks will play Florida on Friday night in what will be the Gators’ fi rst game of the SEC Tournament. ... Florida is 10-1 in its past 11 games against Arkansas and has won seven in a row, including 88-73 earlier this season at the O’Connell Center. ... Arkansas is 2-1 in neutral site games this season. The Razorbacks beat Oklahoma and Connecticut and lost to North Carolina at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Ore., over Thanksgiving weekend. ... Arkansas has 113 dunks this season, including 68 by Daniel Gafford. ... The Razorbacks are 4-6 in SEC Tournament games under Mike Anderson, but 4-3 since 2015.

Sports on 03/08/2018

Print Headline: Hogs turn 50 in SEC tourneys

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