Anderson meets former team as Missouri travels to Arkansas

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson disputes a call during the second half an a game earlier this month against Tennessee. Arkansas hosts Missouri today in Anderson’s first game against his former team.

Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson disputes a call during the second half an a game earlier this month against Tennessee. Arkansas hosts Missouri today in Anderson’s first game against his former team. Photo by The Associated Press.

When Mike Anderson left Missouri following the 2010-11 season to become head coach at Arkansas after a sticky departure in Columbia, most figured it would be a long time before the Tigers and Razorbacks renewed their rivalry.

That was nothing a simple switch in conferences couldn’t take care of.

Now a Southeastern Conference matchup, Anderson meets his former team for the first time at 3 p.m. today in Fayetteville, Ark. (ESPN-TV).

“More than anything else it’s Arkansas against Missouri,” Anderson said. “I always put things in perspective and that’s what you’ll see.”

While Anderson may see it that way, others may have a different perspective. Anderson’s departure from Missouri after five seasons left some Missouri fans and players at the time feeling jilted. In five seasons at Missouri, Anderson went 111-57 with three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. But at the end of each of his final three seasons, Anderson entertained offers from other schools.

He commented multiple times prior to leaving for Arkansas he hoped to stay in Columbia for a long time.

But when Arkansas came calling, the allure to return to where he began his coaching career was too much to pass up.

Anderson, who spent 17 seasons at Arkansas as an assistant coach under Nolan Richardson, mostly avoided talk of Missouri during the SEC teleconference Tuesday, but did say it would be emotional to play against former players Laurence Bowers and Phil Pressey.

Last year’s squad, which went 30-5 and won the Big 12 Tournament, seemed to carry a chip on its shoulder from Anderson’s departure.

That team was filled with Anderson’s players. Only Bowers and Pressey remain, and some of the anger seems to have worn off.

“Emotions are going to be high, definitely, especially for Phil and myself because it’s our former coach, but we’re going to treat it like every other game,” Bowers said. “We’re going to take a whole team effort. Me and Phil aren’t going to try and do anything out of character. We’re going to try and get a win.”

Pressey has had a close relationship with Anderson since he was little. His father Paul and Anderson were roommates in college at Tulsa.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” Pressey said. “I haven’t seen him in a while. It’s going to be fun to see him again.”

Similar to Anderson’s teams at Missouri, the Razorbacks (15-9, 6-5 SEC) have been nearly unbeatable at home (13-1), including an upset of then-No. 2 Florida last week. But Arkansas has been brutal on the road coming into today’s game with an 0-6 mark in true road games. That includes losses to Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

B.J. Young and (16.5) and Marshawn Powell (14.9) are the only two Razorbacks averaging double figures.

Missouri (18-6, 7-4 SEC) is coming off its first road win of the season, a 78-36 thrashing of Mississippi State on Wednesday.

A couple of former Tigers would like nothing more than to get their second road win of the season against their former coach.

“He texts me and checks up on me and stuff like that, just because we go way back before Mizzou basketball,” Bowers said. “I definitely keep in touch with him ... On Saturday we are enemies.”

Notes: Arkansas leads the all-time series 19-18. The Razorbacks won the last meeting 94-91 in Fayetteville during the 2008-09 season. … The two teams meet in Columbia on March 5th, which is Senior Night for Missouri. … The Tigers return home Tuesday to take on No. 7 Florida.

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