FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas has been struggling to get 60. But, maybe with the return to some passion, perhaps the offense is back, too.
Not that LSU and Florida A&M represent anything to get excited about, but it does seem that the Razorbacks are at least motivated for the stretch run after their second straight victory, a 94-55 nonconference basketball rout of the Rattlers before 5,121 at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.
Arkansas stepped on FAMU's throat and didn't let off for the first 27 minutes to roll to a 67-21 lead before reserves played out the string. The Hogs led it 43-6 after the first 16 minutes and by 45-11 at halftime when the Rattlers hit just 4 of 28 from the field, a horrible 14 percent.
The Hogs won their second straight to improve to 16-9 before returning to the fire over the next seven days with a trip to Alabama on Saturday and then playing host to Kentucky on Wednesday.
Powell and Clarke each scored 14 to lead the Hogs. Johnson added 13 and Peterson scored 10. But it was the defense that coach John Pelphrey was praising afterwards.
"The way we started, that was energy, effort and a one-for-all attitude," Pelphrey said. "We came out in the first half playing defense tremendously well, across the board.
"That first half, we played very, very well and we started the second half well, too."
Obviously, the competition in the last two outings wasn't stellar. LSU is 10-15 before hosting Alabama on Thursday. FAMU heads home at 11-15.
"But I still think we've made some progress," Pelphrey said. "This is the same team that was struggling to break 60 in the previous couple of games."
Peterson and Powell said they were just following the lead of their coach. They said his energy increased over the last week.
"Everyone was tired of losing," Peterson said. "I think we are just trying to play harder on defense and put in extra work in practice. I think (Pelphrey) is tired of losing. He's our leader. He's a little more fired up. He is always pretty intense and that hasn't changed, but he cranked it up a notch or two."
Powell added, "He has picked up the energy a lot."
Asked about those comments, Pelphrey said it's just that time of year.
"I hope they see a guy who is hungry, someone with passion," he said. "This is the time of year where you don't add anyone. The ones who make improvement are the ones who want it the most. It comes down to extra effort, maturity and growth. I'm not going to say that word -- I just want them to be as good as they can be."
The word? Pelphrey had called his team "overachievers" after the LSU victory on Saturday, then spent a Monday press conference explaining his terminology. He didn't go there after this game.
"It's not really Xs and Os this time of year, but effort as a team," he said. "I think it's a sense of urgency and recognizing where we are. I think it's a hunger and a passion and you've seen that."
The Hogs had the Rattlers on the ropes early. It was 25-3 at the 11:17 mark when Clarke made an old-fashioned three to go with two bombs early in the game. Britt also hit a pair of threes in the quick start.
"Our defense was good," Pelphrey said. "We were disruptive. Florida A&M came in here playing pretty good and we have respect for them. But we were getting after them. I think Delvon blocked three or four shots in the first half and we were getting the rebounds.
"And we were reading what they were doing on defense. We were passing the ball, playing unselfish. They got in a zone and we hit shots there, too. I thought our high-low offense between Delvon and Marshawn was pretty good, too."
Marshawn Powell scored 14 points with five assists.
Delvon Johnson throws down a dunk.
John Pelphrey liked what he saw Wednesday night.
Photos by Marc F. Henning