A Better Start

The Razorbacks (10-2) are off to a much better start in 2010-2011 than last season, fresh off a 87-74 win over Texas Arlington and looking ahead to a Tuesday night date at No. 13 Texas (11-2).

As any college basketball coach, player or fan will tell you, it's not where you are on first of January, but what you have got accomplished by the end of March.

But with consecutive 14-win seasons in the immediate past, the Arkansas basketball program can't help but take some pride in the 10-2 start it has after a 87-74 win over Texas Arlington on Friday night.

Arkansas, 7-5 at this point last season with three home losses to mid-majors, has its full roster available now and is off to its best start since a 12-1 mark in 2008-2009 that fizzled into a 2-15 skid.

"I'm looking forward to that," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said of having a full roster of available players. "I think we have got a chance to improve as a basketball team as we get everybody healthy and finally have a full go. I think this will be the first time that we have all hands on deck in the front court."

The Razorbacks put four players in double figures and played with its full roster for the first this season while downing Texas-Arlington 87-74 on Friday night before 6,934 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Senior Marcus Britt had a career-high 16 points while Jeff Peterson and Julysess Nobles added 15 points each and Delvon Johnson 12 points and 9 rebounds in the New Year's Eve victory.

"We're very happy to get the win tonight," Pelphrey said. "UTA was very resilient and we had a very difficult time defending them. We shot the ball well from distance again tonight and Marcus Britt was a huge lift for us, especially in the last two games. It was good to see a senior step up and make a big impact like that."

Britt said he was just doing what he was told.

"Coach told me about a week ago that I needed to take more shots so I tried to be more aggressive on offense and defense," Britt said.

The game also marked the return of Marshawn Powell from a one-game suspension and the first action this season for Michael Sanchez, who missed the first 11 games with an injury.

Powell had 9 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes while Sanchez was eased back in with 4 points and 2 rebounds in six minutes.

"We had been through probably three or four practices I guess and had some discussions and just thought it was time to go," Pelphrey said on Sanchez. "…We were kind of looking at six to eight minutes and he played six. We just wanted to get him back in the water, get his toes in there. Next game we will get him up to his knees and before you know it he will be back out there all the way."

Peterson welcomed having the full contingent on hand.

"It felt great to have everybody out there," Peterson said. "Mike didn't give us a whole lot of minutes, but when he was out there he gave us a lot with a couple of rebounds and tip-ins. Marshawn – it was obviously great to have him back as well."

The Razorbacks hit 10-of-22 from beyond the 3-point arc and shot 49 percent from the field overall – something that allowed them to overcome a hideous 23-of-39 performance from the free throw line.

"It was kind of odd to shoot it well from distance and then not do well at the free throw line," Pelphrey said. "That's kind of strange."

Arkansas, which lost six of its first seven games in 2010, had 15 assists on its 27 baskets and forced 16 turnovers while committing 13.

A 12-1 run near the end of the half put the Razorbacks ahead to stay and they exploded from that 37-34 halftime edge.

"We weren't very patient offensively and had a couple of turnovers," Texas-Arlington head coach Scott Cross said. "We took a couple of bad shots and Arkansas capitalized on it….I thought that deflated our guys a little bit and then we didn't come out with the same intensity in the second half that we had in the first half."

The Razorbacks will visit No. 13 Texas (11-2) on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in a game that will be televised by ESPNU.

The Longhorns dropped Coppin State 95-75 on Friday.

"They are going to need their game faces on," Pelphrey said. "It will obviously be a true road test."

The Arkansas-Texas game will be the last non-conference game the Razorbacks will play before opening SEC action the following Saturday by hosting Tennessee.

"I guess we have to come out with a better focus than tonight's game and come out with an edge on both the offensive and defensive end," Britt said. "It should be a great game."

Peterson echoed those sentiments.

"They are obviously a great team ranked in the top 25," Peterson said. "It is going to be at Texas, a hostile environment. If we come ready to play, though, I like our chances."

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