Weems Fuels Arkansas' Second-Half Turnaround

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Arkansas needed a spark Thursday, and an unlikely source provided it. Sonny Weems played just four minutes in the first half of Arkansas' 75-49 victory over College of Charleston in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. He picked up two early fouls and didn't return to the contest until after halftime.

When he finally did come back, Weems inspired an 11-0 Arkansas second-half run. The senior native of West Memphis didn't do so in normal fashion, either.

"I felt Sonny was the best player on the court in the second half," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "And it wasn't from spectacular plays from an offensive-talent standpoint. It was effort and the way he played the game.

"He made us a really good basketball team in the second half with how hard he played -- diving on the floor and making extra passes. He was special in the second half."

Weems did finish with 10 points, all in the second half. And the 6-foot-6 forward did score three times on vicious dunks that have become trademark-type plays for him.

But it was his six rebounds, his extra hustle and his unselfishness that truly fueled Arkansas' improved second-half output.

"He gave us a big energy boost," guard Patrick Beverley said.



Friars Coming Up

Arkansas faces Providence at 4:30 p.m. today in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off semifinals.

For about 34 minutes of the game preceding Arkansas' contest, Providence looked destined for the tournament's loser's bracket. The Friars trailed most of their game Thursday against Temple and encountered a 62-52 deficit with 6 minutes, 2 seconds remaining.

Providence scored the game's next 14 points and held on for a 66-64 win. Pelphrey said the Razorbacks would take on a quality, disciplined team coached by Tim Welsh, who he considers a friend.

"I think they're picked in the top four or five in (the Big East) this year," Pelphrey said. "And (junior forward Geoff) McDermott, I guess, is a pro. I don't think they played that great today, but the last (six) minutes they must've played great.

"We're certainly going to have to play better against them than we did tonight to win the game."



Beat On the Boards

College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins knew his Cougars faced an arduous challenge Thursday because of Arkansas' superior size.

He focused increased practice time on the area, in fact.

"Our No. 1 goal going in was rebounding," Cremins said.

The Cougars failed miserably at their main objective. Arkansas grabbed 53 rebounds. College of Charleston snared just 27. Senior forward Vincent Hunter recorded a career-high 10 rebounds in just nine minutes, and five other Razorbacks had at least six boards.

"It probably should've happened, with their (lack of) frontcourt depth," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "They lost quite a few players from last year."

"But I thought fatigue became a factor in the game.



Sonny Weems gets loose for a dunk in the second half.


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