Sonny Day For Razorbacks

Weems, who was relegated to coming off the bench in the Razorbacks' opener a week ago, answered the bell Saturday night in Bud Walton Arena when told he would make his first-career start at the Division I-A level. Weems, a junior college transfer from Arkansas-Fort Smith, produced a stat line worth putting in the Bud Walton Arena lights by replacing senior Charles Thomas in the starting rotation.

Weems, who was relegated to coming off the bench in the Razorbacks' opener a week ago, answered the bell Saturday night in Bud Walton Arena when told he would make his first-career start at the Division I-A level. Weems, a junior college transfer from Arkansas-Fort Smith, produced a stat line worth putting in the Bud Walton Arena lights by replacing senior Charles Thomas in the starting rotation.

The small forward scored 24 points and tallied 11 rebounds, 4 assists, two blocks and two steals to lead the Razorbacks to a 70-59 victory over Stephen F. Austin in front of a crowd of12,118.

"It feels real good, all the hype, you have to live up to it," said Weems. "I was a good player in junior college ball, but now this is the big leagues right here. I have to come in a prove myself."

Arkansas coach Stan Heath said Thomas, who fouled out with 0 points in 15 minutes, would start when Arkansas travels to the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. next week. But he also mentioned he would find a place for Weems in the rotation.

"This helped Sonny," Heath said. "But I'm not sure it helped Charles. Maybe we can start six in our next game. I'd like to do that."

As Arkansas struggled through the inconsistencies of its defense in the first half, Weems and company took charge in the second half. Once Stephen F. Austin overcame a four-point halftime deficit to take a 47-46 lead early in the second half, Arkansas turned the momentum on the defensive end. Center Steven Hill tallied seven blocks for the second consecutive game. Senior Darian Townes added three blocks as the Razorbacks totaled 14 in the game.

The Lumberjacks shot 50 percent in the first half, but were held to 38.5 in the second 20 minutes.

"(Blocking shots) is something we've been pretty consistent with," Hill said. "We have to be careful not to get into foul trouble, but so far we're able to punch those shots out pretty well."

Hill was also active on the offensive end, scoring a career-high 12 points with smooth moves in the pivot and a nice touch around the rim. Four Razorbacks scored in double figures with point guard Gary Ervin also with 12 and Vincent Hunter with 11.

"Steven is a presence on defense, but tonight he did a very good job offensively," Heath said. "He was versatile, posting up and showed some nice moves."

Stephen F. Austin (1-2) shot over 50 percent for much of the game and took its only lead of the second half with 12:14 to play when Corwin Ragland made one of four layups in the Lumberjacks 11-0 run.

But Arkansas (2-0) forced two quick turnovers, sparking scores on the other end by Weems. Hunter then blocked two shots, one which resulted in Weems sinking a 3-pointer. Weems would also join the block party and was able to finish on the other end with a jumper. And in a matter of four minutes, Arkansas had regained the lead and was comfortably on top, 59-47.

"This was by far (Weems') best game tonight," Heath said. "He's a guy that once he gets on a roll he's hard to stop. We saw that in him last year. He really helped with the seven offensive rebounds, giving us extra possessions."

For the game, Arkansas shot 52.9 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from 3-point range.

It was Arkansas' ninth consecutive win in Bud Walton Arena, dating back to January.

Patrick Beverly, who led the Razorbacks with 29 points in their 92-52 win over Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 10, could not match that performance Saturday. The freshman managed just five points on 2-of-5 shooting.

"It was mainly defensive things," Heath said. "He was driven by a couple of times and those are freshman things he needs to get better at and he will."



Why the Razorbacks won



The Razorbacks blocked 14 shots and juco transfer Sonny Weems recorded a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead Arkansas.



Why the Lumberjacks lost



Stephen F. Austin watched its field goal percentage drop from 50 percent in the first half to 38.5 percent in the second half as Arkansas' defensive effort improved.



NOTES



Defense and the finishing ability of Weems led Arkansas on a 13-0 run after the Lumberjacks took a 47-46 lead with 12:14 to play in the game.



Arkansas hit 8-of-17 3-pointers, led by Weems, who hit 3 of 4. Gary Ervin was 2 of 4 and Vincent Hunter 2 of 3.



Stephen F. Austin led by as many as five points in the first half, but trailed 35-31 at halftime.


Hawgs Daily Top Stories