Another slow start, another solid finish.
Gary Ervin and Michael Washington both had a team-high 12 points off the bench and Washington also added 12 rebounds as the University of Arkansas whipped Missouri State 70-51 Monday night before 11,956 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
"I was pleased," This was probably our best game. I thought they were a very good team from a very good league. They go on the road in that league (the Missouri Valley) and win games.
"I said before this would be the most challenging deal we had faced," Pelphrey added. " This is as good a team as we've played. After a slow start, I thought we got after it and brought fatigue into the game. I thought style of play won out.
It was a balanced scoring effort for the UA squad with Charles Thomas adding 9, Darian Townes 8, Sonny Weems 7 and Steven Hill, Patrick Beverley and Stefan Welsh 6 points each for the Razorbacks (7-1).
Washington had the 12 rebounds and Weems 7 as the home team outrebounded the visitors 42-30, forced them into 23 turnovers while committing 21 of their own and outshot them 42.1 percent to 36.4 from the field.
"Michael had a great ballgame," Pelphrey said. "He was really active and able to finish off all his plays."
Washington, who recorded the first double-double of his career, said his team came in with a plan.
"It's doing the simple things like boxing out," Washington said. "You do little things and you get things around the basket. We went out and worked hard and did what Coach Pelphrey wants, get the other teams tongue hanging out.""
The Razorbacks (7-1) went on a 13-2 second half run while taking control of the game and winning their sixth straight game and their third in six days.
Missouri State (4-2) had just 20 points after halftime - including just one field goal in a 10-minute stint after intermission.
"We were awful," Missouri State head coach Barry Hinson said. "Our guards were 3 of 19. We beat a dead man by three (as far as shooting)."
Hinson did like what he saw from the Razorbacks.
"(Arkansas is) better," Hinson said. "That's the best they've played. I've seen all of their games and this is the best they have played. John told me that, too, after the game. They really played well. I was impressed with Arkansas."
Arkansas had a whopping 17 offensive rebounds.
"I think John has gotten their big guys to play tremendously better," Hinson said. "They give great effort in transition. They get down the floor. Their big guys are really moving. I thought the difference was 17 offensive rebounds."
Arkansas led just 44-40 when Missouri State's Deven Mitchell scored inside with 14:29 left.
But the Razorbacks hit 7 of 8 free throws, Steven Hill loose for a pair of dunks and Micahel Washington scored inside as the home team surged ahead 57-42 with 9:28 left in the game.
"It's what we do," Hill said. "It is our style. We have fresh bodies. We have a lot of depth in the front court and that helped us tonight. We've played a lot of games in a short time and we may have lost our legs a little bit, but we kept rotating people and extended (the defense) against them and made them play faster."
Arkansas once again fell down early, this time 8-2 when Drew Richards canned a pair of free throws at the 16:35 mark.
"We knew they would come out and hit us and knock us around," Pelphrey said. "But it is probably still a surprise when it happens. Our guys did respond to it and played very tough the rest of the way."
The Razorbacks eventually took the lead 23-21 with 6:19 left in the half when Darian Townes dunked to cap an 8-0 run.
Arkansas later pushed it to a seven-point on Ervin's rebound basket, but Richards cut it to 36-31 on a slam with 43 seconds left in the half.
For once Pelphrey wasn't that upset about the turnovers.
"We had 21 turnovers, but I didn't think there were a lot of careless turnovers," Pelphrey said. "It was a very physical game. They are averaging forcing 24 turnovers so I thought we played well. This was a very well played game by us for what we've been through (as far as numbers of games in a short time frame)."
The Razorbacks will now have an extended break for finals before returning Dec. 12 for a home game with Texas-San Antonio.
Arkansas will then have its first true road game of the year at Oklahoma on Dec. 15.
Patrick Beverley goes in for a lay-up off an Arkansas steal.
Gary Ervin had 12 points in the win.
Arkansas 70, Missouri State 51
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