And with their new coach often stomping his foot, throwing his hands up or barking out commands, the Arkansas Razorbacks did enough hounding to impress John Pelphrey.
"I liked the energy from the press," Pelphrey said. "By no means are we where we need to be, but we needed to see progress tonight playing hard, being a team and being unselfish. And I thought our attitude was very good."
Arkansas defeated Division II West Florida 117-43 in Bud Walton Arena, but really, Friday night's opponent and final score meant little. This night was about turning the page, about starting over. This night was about starting to establish a new identity. This night was about showing a comfort level with the kind of pace Pelphrey wants from his Razorbacks.
That being, pedal to the metal. And the Hogs didn't let off the entire evening.
They scored the game's first 17 points in just 3 minutes, 54 seconds. They forced a whopping 29 turnovers. They even ripped off a 28-2 run in the second half that spanned only five minutes.
And sure, the Argonauts who traveled to Fayetteville shouldn't be confused talent-wise with any of Arkansas' regular-season foes. But they're not slouches. West Florida lost at Florida State by only 21 points Wednesday night.
"I think it went as expected," said Arkansas forward Charles Thomas, one of six Razorbacks to score in double figures. "Obviously the fans can see the hard work and dedication we've put in -- the two-a-days we went through. It's starting to pay off."
Offensively, the Razorbacks appeared comfortable in constant up-tempo mode. Sophomore forward Michael Washington had the best statistical night, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but everyone seemed to make an impact. Every player scored except for freshman Marcus Britt, who had four assists and no turnovers. Walk-on Stephen Cox even had five points
Highlight-reel plays were pulled off by the Razorbacks all night. Thomas threw down a left-handed jam in the face of a West Florida defender. Beverley had nine assists. Washington scored on an array of moves. Freshman guard Levan Patsatsia drained three 3-pointers.
The only downside to Friday night was an injury suffered by senior Sonny Weems, who sprained his groin. Pelphrey said Weems could've "toughed it out" if it was an important game. Weems played only seven minutes, but the most telling sign Arkansas has at least begun to embrace Pelphrey's ways occurred with him on the floor.
Early in the first half, Beverley crashed to the floor going for a rebound. His teammates immediately sprinted toward him to help him up. That immediate concern from teammates wasn't present last season. A certain element of chemistry was missing.
This season, Pelphrey wants to make sure the Razorbacks care enough to help up a teammate. It's still a work in progress. They failed Thursday afternoon. At practice, Thomas dove into the stands for a loose ball. The Hogs all stood around -- no one moved -- and Pelphrey lit into his team.
They looked like they had learned their lesson Friday night. Every time a Razorback hit the ground, at least three of his teammates on the court ran toward him immediately.
"It's a small thing, but I think it's intimidating," Pelphrey said. "If your teammate is willing to throw himself on the floor and sacrifice his body for Arkansas, you need to be thanking him for that."
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