Dandy Debut

FAYETTEVILLE -- The halftime buzzer blared, capping the first 20 minutes of Patrick Beverley's Arkansas career, and two older Razorbacks quickly sprinted toward him.

Charles Thomas unleashed a vicious chest bump on the freshman guard from Chicago. Gary Ervin playfully smacked Beverley across the side of the head, smiling and then putting his arm around him. Five first-half 3-pointers by Beverley had turned Thomas and Ervin into a couple of giddy teammates. "That passion and love from the veterans just lets you know how much trust they got in you," Beverley said. After a 29-point performance Friday night, Beverley shouldn't have to worry about anybody not trusting him this season. Beverley came to Fayetteville with a reputation as a fierce, fiery scorer who holds in no emotion on the basketball court. He lived up to expectiations in Arkansas' 92-52 season-opening victory over Southeast Missouri State, giving the Hogs the type of scoring night that could've broken records. Arkansas' sports information department didn't have freshmen records on hand Friday night, but former sports information director Rick Schaeffer said he couldn't recall a higher point total for a freshman in his debut. Beverley nailed only one of the nine 3-pointers he attempted in Arkansas' two exhibition contests. So, understandably, Arkansas coach Stan Heath didn't anticipate a debut like this. Maybe he should've expected Beverley's shooting display, though, considering the comments made by the 18-year-old who doesn't lack confidence. "He kept saying, 'Coach, I'm going to be ready. Coach, I'm going to be ready,'" Heath said. "He really believed that he was going to turn the corner." Beverley did, in a hurry, draining 5-of-6 3-pointers in the first half. His third 3-pointer of the game, after an offensive rebound by Charles Thomas, gave Arkansas a 26-20 lead and energized the Bud Walton Arena crowd of 11,952. In fact, Beverley encouraged the Razorbacks' fans all evening. Several times, Beverley intensely shouted toward the crowd and motioned his arms into the air. Later in the first half, those in attendance rose in unison after a sequence in which Beverley swished a 3-pointer and drew a charge, all within 15 seconds. "I've always been an energetic kid," Beverley said. "I feed off the crowd, and I like to think that they will feed off me." If he keeps competing with the energy he exhibited Friday night, they surely will. Beverley finished with six 3-pointers, added four assists and four steals and played with a sense of unselfishness, completing an all-around effort his teammates knew he had in him. "That's the guy who can really give us a spark," Sonny Weems said. "It's hard not to like a guy who plays with that kind of intensity."

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