It's a learning process for Arkansas, but the lessons have come with rewards so far for the No. 10 Razorbacks.
Another chance to build on a strong start to the season comes against visiting Charlotte on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
"Do I think our team has to be more mentally sharp? Yes, for sure," Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said.
Arkansas (8-0) is coming off a 93-78 home victory against Little Rock on Saturday, so it marks the third straight season that the team has opened with eight wins. JD Notae and Au'Diese Toney, a transfer from Pittsburgh, both had 18 points for the Razorbacks.
"We feel good, even though (some have) been ugly and not too pretty," Toney said. "We just want to maintain and keep building off that ... and progressing with the new guys."
Notae, who's the only player on the team to post a double-figure point total in every game, and Toney are the top scorers for Arkansas for the season. Notae is at 18.1 and Toney at 14.0, followed by Miami transfer Chris Lykes at 12.4. Toney is shooting 69 percent (40 of 58) from the field.
"It just a matter of work you put in," Toney said. "You have to know different things to learn how to score."
Arkansas is 6-0 at home. The result against Little Rock was the closest final margin of those games since a pair of 13-point triumphs against Mercer and Northern Iowa.
The Razorbacks have scored more than 85 points in four of the games. Yet Little Rock posted the second-highest point total on Arkansas this season.
"We've got issues to get better at," Musselman said, listing defensive transgressions that could hamper the team.
Charlotte (4-3) snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating visiting George Washington 86-79 on Saturday. Jahmir Young poured in a season-best 26 points.
"Playing with a lot more purpose, a lot more conviction," Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez said of something he would like to see extended after finally getting back on the winning path.
The game with Arkansas might be the only matchup against a ranked team all season for the 49ers. It's also the first of three straight games that will be played away from home, though a clash with Wake Forest later this month will be at Charlotte's NBA arena.
Charlotte guard Clyde Trapp has plenty of experience playing in big-time environments. He made 50 starts for Clemson before transferring to the 49ers. Trapp had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the George Washington game.
"This group is getting to know each other," Sanchez said. "As long as they play hard and continue to have great attitudes, we'll live with whatever comes."
Sanchez said becoming connected defensively is a process for the 49ers. That could prove to be huge in a tough road environment against Arkansas.
This will be Charlotte's second true road game. The other was a 67-66 victory Nov. 18 at Appalachian State.
Getting the win against George Washington was crucial in establishing a better vibe.
"We have to keep building, playing together," Charlotte guard Austin Butler said. "As Coach said, keep getting used to each other. Keep feeding off each other and trusting one another."
These games in December will be important for Charlotte in setting a foundation.
"We're here for the long haul," Sanchez said.
--Field Level Media