Fayetteville (NWAOnline.com) - A year after opening the season with just six scholarship players in uniform, Arkansas will have a full roster when it hosts Grambling State on Thursday in Bud Walton Arena.
Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey said Tuesday both forward Marshawn Powell (ankle) and guard Jeff Peterson (hamstring) will be available in the season opener. Both missed one of two exhibition games in the preseason and saw only limited action in the game they played.
"There's no way either of them could be 100 percent and that may be a little bit longer here before we get to that," Pelphrey said. "But it's not going to be a case where they're playing 40 minutes anyway. So with the time they're out there, we want them to go as hard as they possibly can. We're not afraid to use our bench. We've got some guys over there that are working very hard. So even though those guys, individually aren't at 100 percent from a conditioning standpoint, they're still able to help in limited, less time.
"We're not worried about numbers right now with either one of those guys. They're ready to go."
Powell, an all-SEC selection in the preseason and the Razorbacks' leading rebounder last year, played in Arkansas' exhibition against LeMoyne Owen on Nov. 6, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. He missed last week's exhibition against Victory University, however, as Pelphrey elected to rest him as he recovers from a broken foot suffered in August.
"He's doing well and he's getting closer," Pelphrey said. "I'm not sure the number they threw out there after the first exhibition game, 55 or 60 percent, or whatever. I would say he's 80-plus right now."
For Peterson, a transfer from Iowa, Thursday will mark the first in-season game played in nearly 21 months.
"I think any time you have something that important to you and have it taken away, you tend to appreciate it a little bit more," said Peterson, who redshirted last season. "Coming out here, even last year going through practice and things like that, it just helped me work a little bit harder and play a little bit harder, and just things like that just to see how quickly something can be taken away from you. It helps you see you should appreciate something while you have it."
"I'm excited to play with my teammates. We've got a great group of guys and are just ready to get started."
Arkansas showed more of an up-tempo pace in the two exhibition games, forcing 32 turnovers in last week's 109-74 win over Victory University. Peterson said he feels that tempo fits his style of play better than the slower pace he was a part of at Iowa.
"I'm used to pushing the ball up the court my whole life; just going up and down," Peterson said. "I think my time at Iowa helped me learn some things and how to play. It's important for a point guard to know when to push the ball and when not to, so it did help me in that aspect to know when to slow up and things like that."
The Razorbacks and Tigers will tip-off at 7:05 p.m. Thursday night.