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By LARRY VAUGHT
During his collegiate head coaching career, former Kentucky standout John Pelphrey has never beaten Kentucky. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play the Wildcats when he was coach at South Alabama and he has been unable to beat UK during his three previous seasons at Arkansas.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get another chance to beat the Wildcats when Arkansas hosts No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously we want to win them all. Every time we get ready two or three days in advance that is the goal. It will be a big challenge on Wednesday,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Pelphrey. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Certainly a lot of people out there want to win games like I do and a lot want to beat Kentucky. Not everybody gets a chance to do that.
Arkansas has not played Ã¢â‚¬Å“very wellÃ¢â‚¬Â most of the Southeastern Conference season and is 5-7 in league play and only 16-10 overall. Considering Pelphrey was only 51-46 in his first three seasons at Arkansas, there has been speculation about his job status for next season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are not worried about that. If happens, happens. We are just worried about winning and this team,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Arkansas senior Delvon Johnson, who is averaging 10 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds per game. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach is a great guy. He is one of the best coaches I have ever had. He is a playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coach. He wants to be out there with us. He brings intensity every day. We need to play like he coaches and we will be fine.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is real cool. Off the court you can talk to him or go to his office. I have never had a time when I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t joke around or talk to him about basketball. He is a good guy.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Pelphrey was a fan favorite at Kentucky. He is from Paintsville and was one of The Unforgettables under coach Rick Pitino that has his jersey hanging in Rupp Arena.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have never seen video of him playing. Around his house he has a couple of pictures, including one of Shaquille OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neal blocking his shot.Ã‚Â I talk about that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Johnson laughed and said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But I have not seen any (video) clips of him playing. Maybe he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t show us because he knows we will make fun of him. We just make fun of the pictures around his house.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It would just be a laughing session if he did show us clips of his play. He gets out there sometimes a little bit and tries to dribble and shoot around with us, and we laugh about that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Johnson, though, does have a guess about what kind of player Pelphrey, who scored 1,257 points in 114 games at UK, must have been.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am guessing he was a very intense, hard player because that is the way he coaches. I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the way he wants us to play,Ã¢â‚¬Â Johnson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We saw his jersey (hanging) when we played them last year. We walked into the gym and saw a retired jersey that said Pelphrey on the back, so we knew it was coach PelphreyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s jersey. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell us. He talks a little bit about his Kentucky days, but not much.Ã¢â‚¬Â