FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Marvell Waithe has never been shy about sharing his feelings on a variety of matters.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas forward Marvell Waithe has never been shy about sharing his feelings on a variety of matters.

It has made the senior one of the most quotable Razorbacks this season. But when the topic of former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey’s was broached this week, the senior was silent.

“No comment,” Waithe said when asked about Pelphrey.

There’s no doubt some Razorbacks are looking forward to seeing their former Arkansas coach, who was fired after the 2010-11 season, when he steps into Bud Walton Arena as a Florida assistant on Billy Donovan’s staff today. Others may have different feelings. But either way, Pelphrey’s return to his former place of employment has provided an interesting storyline to an already intriguing game when No. 14 Florida (20-6, 8-3 in SEC) meets Arkansas (17-9, 5-6) today.

Guard Mardracus Wade, who played under Pelphrey last season, said he’s been looking forward to his former coach’s return for a long time. He knows Arkansas fans have as well.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Wade said. “I know this place is going to get rocking. I’m very excited. I circled this game when we first got the calendar. So I know it’s going to be a lot of noise. He’s going to want to come in here and get a win. But at the same time, we’re going to try to go at him too. This is our house and we want to defend it.”

Pelphrey was 69-59 in his tenure, which included a trip to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, before being fired and replaced by current coach Mike Anderson. He coached the six returning players on Arkansas’ roster. He also put together the four-member freshman class, which was regarded as one of the most talented in school history and has played a key role in Arkansas’ success under Mike Anderson this season.

Guard B.J. Young, who leads Arkansas in scoring as a freshman (15.0 points a game), believes Pelphrey deserves credit for assembling the group that also includes forwards Hunter Mickelson and Devonta Abron and guard Ky Madden.

“I think they should appreciate him because he recruited a great class, a great group of guys that play well together,” Young said. “I know that we thank him for that. We just thank him for recruiting us and getting us down here.”

But Pelphrey’s tenure with the Razorbacks was marred by problems on and off the court. Numerous players were suspended for various reasons. Arkansas had issues regarding its Academic Progress Rate, some of which were inherited when Pelphrey arrived. The program lost games on the court and support in Bud Walton Arena when attendance dipped sharply.

No matter what happened, Mickelson said Pelphrey is a “great guy.” It’s one reason he signed with Arkansas and Mickelson said it will be unusual seeing him on Florida’s bench today.

“It’s going to be a little weird,” Mickelson said. “We’ll probably say, ‘Hey, what’s up’ and all that. But after that it’s just going to be business.”

Anderson, who said he spoke to Pelphrey prior to taking the Arkansas job but has not had a conversation with him since, understands the emotions that will be involved when the teams play in front of a sellout crowd in Bud Walton Arena.

He’s hoping the Hogs, more than anything else, will concentrate on finding a way to keep its home win streak — and slim NCAA tournament hopes — intact with another win against a ranked opponent today. The Razorbacks are coming off a disappointing road loss at Tennessee and are trying to rebound, once again, in the comforts of home.

“The biggest thing for us is to try to get better from the last performance,” Anderson said. “That’s the most important thing no matter who we play. Every game is a big game. How do we respond coming off of a tough loss at Tennessee? I thought our guys were ready to play. … but we got beat soundly.”

The Gators have plenty at stake, too, as they try to stay in contention for the SEC’s regular season title.

Florida ended a two-game losing streak with a win at Alabama on Tuesday night and is looking to continue its road success — and NCAA tournament resume — when they play at Arkansas.

So Pelphrey declined an interview request about his return to Fayetteville through Florida’s media relations department earlier this week. He also declined an interview request by GatorZone.com, the Florida athletic department’s website, saying “it’s about these players, not me.”

Donovan, who didn’t agree with Arkansas’ decision to fire Pelphrey last spring, said he and his assistant don’t hold any grudges with Anderson. But he’s sure Pelphrey has “some emotions and some feelings going back” to Fayetteville.

“I’m sure internally there’s probably a lot of emotions there for him,” Donovan told the media in Gainesville, Fla., on Friday. “I know he loves Arkansas. He loved the people there. He loved the school. He loved everything about it.”

There’s no doubt Pelphrey would love to cap his return to Arkansas with a win. Wade and the Razorbacks realize that, but don’t plan to let he and the Gators enjoy the moment by ending the Razorbacks’ perfect record in Bud Walton Arena.

“We’ve got to win,” Wade said.

No. 14 Florida (20-6) at Arkansas (17-9)

• When: 5 p.m. today

• Where: Bud Walton Arena

• TV/Radio: ESPN2/KABZ-FM 103.7

• Series: Florida leads 13-11; last meeting Florida 75, Arkansas 43 on Jan. 22, 2011

• Coaches: Arkansas, Mike Anderson (17-9 in first season); Florida, Billy Donovan (309-161 in 17th season)