And Washington, who was suspended for Arkansas' first official practice and the Red-White game, gave them a performance that was worth the wait. Washington posted team-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds in No. 19 Arkansas' 117-43 exhibition victory over Division II West Florida before 9,493 fans in Bud Walton Arena.
"I think it's important for Mike to get reps in, especially since he wasn't able to play in our first two opportunities," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "We wanted to get him extended minutes. Mike has been practicing very well."
Washington's teammates aren't surprised by the outburst, which came on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. They see it every day in workouts. In fact, they saw it all last season.
Back then, though, Washington couldn't keep up. He wasn't cleared to play until the start of the season, he showed up in poor shape and he only started to contribute heavily late in the season.
"I could only last in a game for about two-and-a-half minutes," Washington said. "Now I'm in better shape."
Plus, he's learned a valuable lesson, courtesy of the discipline-minded Pelphrey.
"(Being suspended) gave me more motivation," Washington said. "That's why I came out and did what I did. I let everyone down, and now I'm going to work hard on and off the court to not do it again."
Shooting Within Reason
Pelphrey said he felt the Razorbacks fell in love with the 3-pointer a bit too much in the first 20 minutes. Arkansas was 6-of-16 on 3-pointers in the first half. The Hogs knocked their attempts down to nine in the second half but still made five.
All nine of freshman Levan Patsatsia's points came on three 3s. Sophomore Stefan Welsh was 3-of-5 for the game from the 3-point range, senior Sonny Weems was 2-of-3 and sophomore Patrick Beverley was 2-of-4.
"No one is a bigger fan of the 3-pointer more than I, but I think we took a few too many in the first half," Pelphrey said.
Breaking In Freshmen
There were jitters. There were wide eyes. There were butterflies.
Pelphrey said his three freshmen -- Patsatsia, guard Marcus Britt and forward Michael Sanchez -- "were star-struck" at first. In fact, the Razorbacks gave up seven quick points when Britt and Patsatsia checked in for the first time.
"They were just kind of fumbling around," Pelphrey said.
They all recovered nicely. In addition to his nine points, Patsatsia connected with teammates on a few snappy, no-look passes. Britt had four assists and no turnovers. Sanchez made both of his shots and had five points and five boards.
Sharing The Basketball
Pelphrey always talks about wanting "selfless" players. Arkansas' assist total Friday night reveals the Razorbacks likely are listening to their coach. The Razorbacks had 29 assists and only 13 turnovers.
"We talked a lot about sharing the ball, about if you have two guys on you, find an open teammate," Pelphrey said. "I thought Patrick and Gary (Ervin) made some very good plays in transition."
Beverley led the Hogs with a game-high nine assists.
Two senior starters had efficient performances in limited minutes. Charles Thomas hit all three of his shots and had 11 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes. Steven Hill had nine points and three blocks in 12 minutes. ... Beverley earned a technical foul by slapping the glass after a dunk. "I'll never do that again," he said. ... Senior Vincent Hunter grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
Washington Shines In First Appearance
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