Hard-Fought 100th

FAYETTEVILLE -- Career victory No. 100 far from his mind, Arkansas coach Stan Heath lit into his team Friday night inside the Hogs' Bud Walton Arena locker room at halftime. They had come out flat, for the third consecutive game, and Heath simply had seen enough.

Arkansas trailed Oral Roberts by two points after 20 minutes, and Heath didn't hide his emotions. The yelling, directed at no one in particular, lasted for several minutes and got so bad that junior Charles Thomas refused to divulge details.

"That all stays in the locker room," Thomas said, grinning as he thought about the verbal challenges Heath issued. "He sure got our attention."

The Hogs undoubtedly listened to their coach's animated requests. Arkansas scored 44 second-half points and held Oral Roberts to a second-half shooting percentage of 27.3 in a 68-56 victory before 14,338 fans.

Heath, in his fifth season at Arkansas (9-3), earned his 100th career victory. But the Razorbacks' sluggish first half made accomplishing the feat quite difficult.

The Razorbacks' problems started even before tip-off. Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems showed up late for the team's pregame meal, and Heath yanked the duo from the starting lineup.

"We apologized to our team," Beverley said. "I put that on me and Sonny for coming late. That must have factored in getting behind in the first half, and I feel bad about that. It won't happen again."

Once the tandem did enter the game, they rarely came out.

Weems scored 18 points in 34 minutes, and Beverley tallied a game-high 25 in 36 minutes. Four dunks by Weems and four steals by Beverley played a crucial factor in involving the largest crowd this season in Fayetteville.

"(Sonny) played the way I was expecting to see from the beginning," Heath said. "He really showed up and ignited the team and the fans with his speed dunks."

Before the athletic plays by Beverley and Weems, though, Oral Roberts (5-6) gave Arkansas a scare.

Ken Tutt ripped off the Golden Eagles' first seven points, and Tutt and Caleb Green combined to score 22 of Oral Roberts' 26 first-half points. Meanwhile, Arkansas shot just 37 percent in the opening 20 minutes and experienced a few flashbacks to earlier games in which the Hogs simply stood around on offense.

"In the first half, we were thinking too much, playing tentative," Thomas said. "In the second half, we just let it go."

That had a lot to do with Heath's spirited halftime discussions.

"He got us very excited and got us going," Beverley said. "He just did a bunch of yelling, and we came out with a lot of intensity. As a coach, you've got to find some way to get to your players sometimes, and that's what he did."

An immediate difference in tenacity was recognizable after halftime. Oral Roberts often forced up hurried shots. In fact, the Golden Eagles hoisted up five airballs in the second half.

And on the offensive end, Arkansas motion offense looked just like its title. The Razorbacks set screens. They sprinted to open areas without the ball. They hustled for offensive rebounds.

Their 10-2 run turned a five-point deficit into a three-point lead early in the second half. To cap the spurt, Weems drove around two Golden Eagles and soared into the air for a vicious two-handed slam.

From then on, Arkansas would never relinquish the lead. From then on, Arkansas appeared like the type of team Heath wants to coach.

"Once we pick up the defense, intensity and energy, we are a totally different team," Heath said. "In the second half, we played the way we needed to play, and I'm very proud."

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