Arkansas Basketball: A Sonny Start

FAYETTEVILLE — Fearing the worst, Patrick Beverley darted toward the sideline and yanked Sonny Weems' jersey.

Beverley saw Arkansas' 6-foot-6 junior tripping over the Bud Walton Arena scorer's table, and a nightmare quickly came to mind. So he acted Friday night, with 13:23 left in the second half of the Razorbacks' Red-White Game.

"I did it because that's one player, for sure, we can't afford to lose," Beverley said.

Weems probably didn't need the help. He was never in serious danger of hurting himself. But he turned around, peered at Beverley and beamed, realizing the freshman guard's intentions.

After watching Weems lead all scorers with 28 points and pace the Red team to a 97-94 overtime victory, Arkansas coach Stan Heath talked with a grin as big as that Weems smile.

"He's very fluid out there," Heath said. "I looked up one time and he had 20, and I thought he had about 10. His mid-range game was dynamic. He had a lot of short, 15-foot shots that he just bangs down.

"He got a lot of things done."

As arguably the most hyped newcomer of this year's team, Weems came to Fayetteville accompanied by almost mythical stories about his athleticism. One of his dunks in a Arkansas-Fort Smith game last season made it on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays segment.

Had this been a regular-season game, Weems' two-handed finish off a Gary Ervin alley-oop in the first half may have earned him a selection.

But it's the other parts of Weems' offensive game that should help Arkansas win games.

He showed off outside range, knocking down a 3-pointer. He also excelled, as Heath attested, with his medium-range shooting, finishing 11 of 20 from the field. He persistently moved without the ball, fighting to get open at all times. And his leaping ability allowed him to finish a hanging three-footer while getting fouled.

Sure, there were deficiencies in Weems' performance.

Heath said Weems could have rebounded harder and defended more consistently. But for a starting point, in Weems' first Division I game-like setting, the Hogs couldn't have been more pleased.

"Offensively, we have great balance," Razorbacks center Steven Hill said. "But Sonny's somebody I expect to be near the top of the scoring every game. He showed out there why that is."

As for Weems himself, he is just happy to be one component of the team.

"It's not about just going out there and scoring," Weems said. "I move within the motion offense, which helps us basically have even scoring. I just moved without the ball and my point guard (Ervin) got me in great position to score - so I did."

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