It wasn't surprising that a guard lit it up from behind the 3-point line Friday night during the University of Arkansas' Red-White game at Bud Walton Arena.
It was just surprising which guard that turned out to be before an announced crowd of 3,207 fans.
With junior Rotnei Clarke serving a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules, true freshmen Mardracus Wade downed five of his eight 3-point attempts en route to an 18-point performance that led the Red to a 38-19 win.
"It was good to see," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said of a player who has made his reputation on defense. "I thought it was a positive. I didn't think they were bad shots. I thought they were good ones and it wasn't like he was taking crazy shots and just had one of those nights and it was lucky and it went in. I thought they were all decent shots. That is something we have been talking a lot about in practice."
Wade scored all 15 of his team's points – four 3-pointers and a trio of free throws when fouled on another trey attempt – during a spree where the Red squad turned a 14-13 lead into a 29-15 advantage.
"It was a great feeling and there was a lot of fan support out there," noted Wade, who was a Memphis high school standout before playing last season at Hargrave Military Academy. "I love playing with these guys out there as you can see. We have just got to keep working hard and keep fighting and I think we are going to be okay."
Fellow newcomer Marvell Waithe – a Canadian-born junior college transfer - had 7 points and a game-high 9 rebounds for the winners.
"Marvell had just been getting better and better and better," Pelphrey said. "He is getting stronger and more comfortable in terms of his conditioning – 9 rebounds, that is very good also."
Julysess Nobles and walk-on Nick Mason added 4 points each for the Red while Michael Sanchez added a bucket on a night when both teams shot 37.5 percent from the field and combined to hit 7-of-10 free throws.
Delvon Johnson and Jemal Farmer led the White team with 6 points each while Glenn Bryant chipped in 5, freshman Rickey Scott a basket and Marcus Britt (4 assists) and freshman walk-on Kikko Haydar both went scoreless.
Sophomore forward Marshawn Powell (foot) was expected to miss the game while Iowa transfer guard Jeff Peterson sit out because of a tweaked hamstring.
The big surprise was Clarke's suspension, which was announced before the game in a press release.
The team's second leading scorer at 15.1 points per game last season, Clarke will also miss the exhibition game with LeMoyne-Owen College of Nov. 6, but will be back for the final exhibition against Victory College on Nov. 11.
"We all make mistakes," Pelphrey said. "I make them, everybody makes them. This is something that didn't happen today or whatever. We've already dealt with and as far as I am concerned it's over and done with. He missed tonight and he will miss the first exhibition game, but he'll be back after that.
"As I have said before, the greatest form of love is when you care enough to discipline somebody," Pelphrey said. "This absolutely changes nothing about Rotnei Clarke or the way I feel about him. He is still a very, very special young man. He has done great things as a player, as a person and as a student and he will do more of those as time goes by."
Clarke is known as the quintessential choir boy.
"Like I said before he is a tremendous, tremendous young man, but he is no different than anybody else," Pelphrey said. "He makes mistakes and he's human. We are all very, very affectionate about him and him making mistakes doesn't change that."
As is the norm with Arkansas suspensions, Clarke was not in the building so a question was asked how the young man was handling it.
"Like the champion that he is," Pelphrey said. "He is a great, great role model for young people. As a father you hope some day that your daughter is fortunate enough to bring somebody home like that."
Not having Clarke, Powell and Peterson on the floor meant that three likely starters sat out the contest. Hence, assistant coach Brett Nelson dressed out for the Red team and played some minutes.
Nelson, who hit a 3-pointer Friday night while going 1-of-3, was a standout guard for Florida back in his college days and is in his first year on the Razorback staff.
"I was a little disappointed in Nelson tonight," Pelphrey joked. "I thought he needed to be more aggressive. I am surprised he missed the ones he did, the opportunities he got. I have seen him play better."
Powell has gone from limited non-contact work in practice to taking some contact, according to Pelphrey.
"I think we are going to probably start some stuff tomorrow with Marshawn with a little contact through our coaches," Pelphrey said. "He won't have any contact with the players. We will probably wait on that until the first of next week and see how he is going.
"I think the biggest thing with Marshawn is he is cleared, his foot is fine and it is more of a conditioning thing. I don't want to put him in a high level practice without having some base from a physical conditioning standpoint. I think that is just too risky from hurting something else. I don't think he is going to hurt his foot - although that is always a possibility - but I don't want him pulling a groin, pulling a hamstring and those things."
Peterson could have played Friday night, but the Razorbacks chose not to push the issue. Peterson started two seasons at Iowa before sitting out last year at Arkansas to regain eligibility.
"He kind of tweeked it again Tuesday," Pelphrey said. "He had real good workouts on Monday and Tuesday and toward the end of practice on Tuesday, he made a really good play. It was just slight, but it is just such a trcky injury that we are just trying to make sure we give him a chance to be full strength. I want him at full strength."
Pelphrey noted that the Razorbacks' real practice had occurred on Friday afternoon.
"This (the Red-White scrimmage) was really something for fan interaction with our players and I think it is really important for our players," Pelphrey said. "The point I wanted to make with them today was that we are all very, very proud of the Razorback and it means so much to us.
"We have a wonderful building, a great league, a tremendous and everything, but what makes this program special is fans – the passion they have for the Razorbacks and nobody understands that more than us because we get a chance to play in an environment where they actually have an impact on the game."
• • •
The Arkansas women's team also played its intrasquad game on Friday night with the Red – consisting of the starters - also taking a win in that contest.
Sophomore post Sarah Watkins led the way with 16 points and junior guard Lyndsay Harris chipped in 11 to lead the Red to a 39-21 victory.
Quistelle Williams added 6, C'eira Ricketts 4 and Julie Inman 2 for the Red.
Jamesha Townsend led the White with the 6 points, Skye Rees added 5, Yashira Delgado 4 and Eric Gatling 3 and transfer Kelsey Hatcher 3.
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