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Hog Seniors Playing to Play Another Day

For Mardracus Wade and four other seniors the only sure way to extend their time as Razorbacks is to keep winning.
FAYETTEVILLE--Mardracus Wade spent almost half of his senior season in limbo, mostly watching from the bench as his Razorback teammates struggled to a 2-6 start in SEC play. Back in the mix as the Hogs surged to an 10-8 finish Wade admitted he's not ready to hang up his jersey for good now that post season play has arrived for Arkansas.

"You can kind of just feel the pressure," Wade told reporters. "Not just pressure trying to win but the pressure that it's winding down for me. Every time I go out there I just want to leave everything out there. Play like it's my last game. You know, could be my last game."

With the bracketology experts debating if Arkansas will be one of the "last five in or first five out" of this season's NCAA Basketball Tournament head coach Mike Anderson prefers to avoid the speculation with a more certain path to what would be his first NCAA Tournament appearance as the head Hog. Conference tournament winners avoid the drama of the selection process by securing an automatic bid.

"If we're going to win it (SEC Tourney) we've got to win four games so I plan on taking four suits to answer some of you guy's questions," Anderson said matter-of- factly. "That first game is the most important game. It's survive and advance."

Anderson has been to the NCAA Tournament many times as an assistant coach and head coach but only one of his current players has been a part of the so called "big dance."

"We went my freshman year (at Oklahoma State)," senior guard Fred Gulley recalled. "We played Georgia Tech, lost in the first round. There's nothing like playing in the tournament. You want to end it on a high. If we handle our business and play every game like it's our last and with energy at the end of the day we'll be where we need to be."

Taking care of business would start with a win against either Auburn or South Carolina Thursday afternoon in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Wade said he's been making sure his teammates understand the challenge ahead.

"Auburn or South Carolina, those guys are going to come out with a lot of fight," Wade stressed. "Like I've been telling the guys, teams play a little different once the tournament starts. They play a little tougher. They have a little more energy and so we can't go out there with a mindset saying that, 'Ah well, we've done beat these teams already so things are going to be easy 'cause it's not going to be like that.' "

"Everything's neutral now," Anderson said of post season play. "All the records of every team is zero and zero as we enter this tournament. Our team, because of our depth and the quick turnaround (between games), that's something that will play into our favor. We've got eight or nine guys that can start."


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