Well, they taught everyone, including themselves, a lesson at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
Never, ever, be so sure.
No. 18 Arkansas tied a school record with 32 turnovers and fell 67-51 to Providence, turning its coach into a ranting, screaming, vein-popping mad man for most of the contest. The defeat upset Arkansas coach John Pelphrey so much that he scrapped any social plans the team had for today.
Instead, the Razorbacks will find a gym -- any gym, Pelphrey said -- and practice twice.
"It was the most unenjoyable thing I've ever been associated with as a coach," Pelphrey said. "Turning the ball over robs any joy out of playing this game."
From start to finish, no one associated with Arkansas basketball in San Juan enjoyed the loss that dropped the Hogs into a third-place matchup Sunday with Virginia Commonwealth. About 24 hours after turning the ball over 26 times in a win over College of Charleston, the Razorbacks found a way to regress.
They put forth a performance that made Thursday night's -- and even last year's -- sloppiness seem not so bad. They committed 18 first-half turnovers, one more than in Thursday's victory. They had three players -- Gary Ervin, Charles Thomas and Sonny Weems -- finish with six turnovers apiece.
And, most importantly, they failed to learn from their mistakes. It took Arkansas only 30 minutes, 15 seconds to match its turnover total from Thursday.
"There's really no explanation for it," guard Stefan Welsh said.
It wasn't a lack of focus, forward Darian Townes said. He uttered a familiar line. "Everybody was ready to play, but Providence just wanted it a little more than we wanted it," he said.
Whatever the reason, the Razorbacks never did look like the team Providence coach Tim Welsh dreaded playing. Welsh was so upset with his own squad's effort Thursday, he joked that he thought about jumping off his "beautiful room on the fifth floor of my hotel into a lagoon." Pelphrey was the one likely considering a plunge Friday night.
He was maddened all game long by his self-destructive Razorbacks. Arkansas never led and had the game tied just twice -- at 15 and at 17.
After the Razorbacks' second turnover, he stomped his foot and bellowed, "What are you guys, doin'?" Later in the half, he grabbed Ervin's jersey and yelled right in his face. After a Welsh turnover in the second half, Pelphrey nearly drew his second technical as he took two steps onto the floor, pointed at the sophomore and roared, his face bright red.
Following the game, after Weems fittingly ended the game with a turnover on Arkansas' final possession, Pelphrey made no excuses. He talked about the "buck stopping" with him. And he spoke of rapid improvement being necessary, with press-happy Virginia Commonwealth on deck.
"Thirty-two," Pelphrey bluntly stated. "I could have put my son and daughter out there, and they probably could not reach that number."
Providence 67, Arkansas 51
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