Arkansas 67, Wofford 45

Patrick Beverley has 15 points and Darian Townes 14 as Arkansas kicks off its regular season with a 67-45 win over Wofford Friday night before a crowd of 13,196 fans at Bud Walton Arena

For a while Friday night, it looked like the University of Arkansas crowd might be in for a whole different kind of 40 minutes of Hell – or Pel if you will.

But Wofford didn't end up having enough Gardner Webb in them.

Patrick Beverley scored 15 points and Darian Townes put in all 14 of his in the opening half as the No. 19 Razorbacks eventually broke open a tight game and outlasted the Terriers 67-45 before 13,196 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

"We struggled for awhile in that first half," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Our guys were just trying to get everyone fired up and we were jacked up on the edge...Sometimes you can be too low, but you can also be too high at times and I think that is what happened here early tonight."

Gary Ervin and Sonny Weems each added 10 for Arkansas (1-0) – which had bombed two exhibition foes by a combined 114 points - but did not score its first points until over 5 minutes into Pelphrey's official debut.

Wofford (0-1), hoping to pull off something similar to Gardner Webb's upset at Kentucky earlier this week, controlled the tempo for most of the night and led 6-0 and 10-2 early on.

"We came out with a great tempo and stayed in the game early," Wofford head coach Mike Young said. "We knew coming in that if it turned out being a high possession game, it would result in a high point differential."

The Razorbacks had a hard time getting into the press because of frigid early shooting against the Terriers' zone.

"We knew they were going to play a zone because they couldn't match up with our front line," Pelphrey said. "We were hoping to get to them before they could get to us. If we could get to them with our size then we would have them having to chase us a little bit and it would have been very difficult for them to go zone. You can't really catch up doing that, but it worked out in their favor.

"...We played wrong early shooting too many threes," Pelphrey added. "It's great when they go in, but if they don't go in then it takes your frontline out of the game."

Arkansas never trailed after Sonny Weems got loose for a dunk with 2:24 left although it was tied twice later in the half.

"I think it really started happening for us with about three minutes left in the first half," Pelphrey said. "Coming into this basketball game, Wofford really concerned me as a coach because they shot 46 percent last year from the 3-point line and they shoot it from a lot of different places. That's just hard to guard...The other thing is they refused to turn it over."

Arkansas eventually calmed down to take a 30-26 advantage at halftime - a lead which came on a great individual effort by Townes.

He first blocked a shot with 4.9 seconds left, grabbed it out of the air and raced down the court for a dunk as the buzzer sounded.

"I was surprised they took the shot that quickly," Pelphrey said. "...But when it got it, I was like 'give it to Gary. He didn't give it to Gary and then I thought he was going to run over Gary trying to get off the basket. I knew they could get it off if they just got out of each other's way and one guy had the ball. Fortunately Gary got out the way and Darian was able to complete it."

Townes said he was just trying to spark his team.

"He threw up a shot and I blocked it and I just wanted to end the half off strong and get the crowd into it," Townes said.

Pelphrey's team pushed that to 11 early on in the second half, but then he picked up a technical with 13:51 and Wofford ended up cutting the lead to 37-32.

Arkansas responded by pushing that margin out to 51-34 by the time Charles Thomas scored inside with 7:44 remaining in the game.

"I was a little surprised it was called," Pelphrey said. "It is going to be interesting to see how it goes now. I didn't say a whole lot to get the technical foul, but I guess there is a whole new deal going on right now."

The Razorbacks, who would end up shooting 48.1 percent from the field despite a 3-of-16 game from 3-point land, never led by less than 13 the rest of the way.

"We weren't able to kind of go to the next level with the separation of the score," Pelphrey said. "We'd miss a lay-up and give up one, we'd give up a lay-up and pick up a tick-tack foul. We would have it at around 20 and that would get us back down to 12."

Beverley did not make a field goal in the first half and had just three free throws to his credit at halftime.

"Pat is going to have to deal with this now, being at the top of everybody's board in terms of preparation," Pelphrey said. "He is going to have to deal with expectations come his way."

Drew Gibson led the way for Wofford with 11 points.

Norm Nixon, son of the former Los Angeles Lakers guard of the same name and actress Debbie Allen, scored 3 points for the Terriers.

The Terriers had 15 turnovers to the Razorbacks' 13, shot 36.2 percent from the field and were outrebounded 40-27.

Young, whose team won at Auburn in 2004 before the Tigers went on to be one of the SEC's best, went away impressed.

"I see a comparison with this team (Arkansas) and an Auburn team we played about 10 years ago (and lost to)," Young said. "They were flying shortly off the radar and ended up being one of the best teams in college basketball this season. This team reminds me a lot of that Auburn team."

Arkansas will return to action next Thursday in the ESPNU O'Reilly Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The Razorbacks will open with College of Charleston at 4 p.m. on Thursday, play either Providence or Temple on Friday and hope to be in Sunday's championship game.

"We are happy to win and get those first out of the way, but now we can go to work and get ready to go down to Puerto Rico," Pelphrey said. "It's going to be a little different down there. We are playing on neutral sites, the competition will be kind of across the board in terms of style of play. They'll be some who'll run, some who will play zone and some teams there who do nothing but shoot 3-point shots."

Sonny Weems posterizes Tim Johnson in action on Friday night.

Darian Townes blocks a shot at the end of the first half and turned it into a dunk at the buzzer on the other end.

Gary Ervin drives to the basket as Wofford's Tyler Whatley defends.

Steven Hill gets one of his two blocks on the night as Noah Dalhman tries to get a shot up.

Patrick Beverley scores a pair of his game-high 15 points.

Charles Thomas goes strong to the rack.

John Pelphrey

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