The No. 19 Razorbacks fell behind Wofford 10-2 on Friday night, scaring the 13,196 fans in Bud Walton Arena, invoking brief visions of Gardner-Webb and Kentucky.
"I think we may have been a little too jacked up," first-year coach John Pelphrey said. "(Tuesday) night, I thought we were below where we needed to be. This time we were a little over the mark, so to speak. We've got to find that magic level."
The Hogs stumbled over themselves for 15 minutes trying, but they eventually found it. Arkansas senior Darian Townes scored all of his 14 points before halftime, and the Razorbacks held Wofford to 28 percent shooting in the second half of their 67-45 victory.
The Pelphrey era began in unexpected fashion. His hiring brought the promise of up-tempo basketball, as he talked of forcing turnovers with his full-court press and converting often on fast breaks. Yet Wofford seemed intent on not allowing that pace.
The Terriers worked the shot clock on offense, and they packed into a zone on defense. Wofford coach Mike Young figured this was the only way to spring a possible upset.
"We knew if it was a high possession game, it was going to be a high point differential," Young said. "I was scared out of my mind coming into this building."
Arkansas would end up proving why Young felt such fears, but first, his Terriers were the ones doing the frightening.
The entire first half was played at Wofford's comfort level, far more of a crawl than a track meet. Wofford tallied the game's first six points, and Arkansas didn't score until Townes' dunk with 14 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Hogs missed their first five 3-point attempts. They committed five turnovers in the first seven minutes. And because they weren't scoring, they couldn't set up much in their full-court press and hound Wofford into miscues.
"We had a couple of letdowns, and we weren't playing with the kind of intensity we needed to," Ervin said. "We turned it around pretty quickly."
Even so, the Razorbacks led for a total of just 4 minutes, 50 seconds in the first half. A block and full-court sprint for a dunk by Townes gave Arkansas a 30-26 lead and much-needed momentum heading into halftime.
After the break, the Razorbacks took command with suffocating defense, the type of play that induced smiles and claps from Pelphrey. Wofford converted just seven of its 25 second-half shots, often settling for rushed attempts at the end of the shot clock.
In fact, Pelphrey spent much of the second 20-minute session in an animated state. He stomped his foot repeatedly. He gritted his teeth. He pumped his fist. He got up in players' faces.
He drew his first technical foul at Arkansas, and he never stopped coaching, screaming "no stupid fouls, don't let up!" repeatedly in the waning minutes.
Though the pace was slow, though the offense was ugly, Pelphrey commended his team's bounce-back ability. Kentucky didn't pick itself up against Gardner-Webb. Arkansas did Friday night.
"It was good to see us do that with all that stuff that happened in the first half, that we came through," Pelphrey said. "We've talked about adversity and it came in a lot of different ways. We didn't play correctly shooting the ball. We fouled a lot, and we ran into a team that played well.
"Hopefully that'll give us some confidence as we go along."
Razorbacks Settle Down For Hard-Fought Win
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