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EAST | NO. 5 USC VS. NO. 12 ARKANSAS

USC, Arkansas are no strangers to each other

March 12, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

They play in different conferences and are separated by two time zones and roughly 1,500 miles, but USC and Arkansas are vaguely familiar with each other's personnel.

Razorbacks junior center Steven Hill played against Trojans junior guard Gabe Pruitt and junior swingman Nick Young several years ago at the Michael Jordan Camp in Santa Barbara, and USC Coach Tim Floyd said his staff "looked at" Arkansas junior swingman Sonny Weems, one of the top junior college transfers in the country.

Pruitt and Young said they were impressed with Hill, a 7-footer with long, floppy hair who averages 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds and will get to compete against the two Trojans once more Friday in Spokane, Wash., during an NCAA East Regional first-round game.

"He was dunking on people," Young said. "He played very strong in the post."

Weems is averaging 11.7 points, second to freshman guard Patrick Beverley's 13.8 average among Arkansas players. Beverley was selected the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year.

Floyd said he and his assistant coaches would try to gather more information on the Razorbacks by calling their friends around the country who "can familiarize us with Arkansas' strengths and their weaknesses so that we can have a plan in place to practice."

Young said he saw Arkansas, which finished 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference before making a run to the conference tournament title game, several times on television this season. He said his impressions were that the Razorbacks liked to get up and down the court.

Anything else?

"They're an athletic team, they're country-fed, they're from down south," Young said. "They're going to try to bring it."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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