Arkansas vs. UTSA

FAYETTEVILLE — Since their last game, the Arkansas Razorbacks have concentrated primarily on academics. Sure, they've practiced. They've worked on fundamentals in their ongoing quest to cut down on turnovers.

But it's finals time at the university, and the Hogs are no different than their fellow students. In fact, Arkansas coach John Pelphrey had a difficult time getting in touch with his players throughout the past week.

"Every time I tried to call those guys, they were supposedly at the library," Pelphrey said.

Arkansas senior Sonny Weems assured there was no "supposedly" about it. He finished up his final exams on Monday, the end of an admittedly stressful period for the Razorbacks, who resume play Wednesday night against Texas-San Antonio.

Several players were suspended throughout the semester because of academic-related violations of team rules, but senior point guard Gary Ervin smiled when asked about his teammates' academic standing.

"I believe our whole team is going to be with us for the rest of the season," Ervin said.

Ervin said accomplishing that goal — if the Hogs actually do — wasn't be easy. His toughest exam came in a class most students wouldn't think of signing up for — Swahili. Weems couldn't decide on a most difficult exam. "I didn't have a hardest final," he said with a grin.

But he couldn't believe how many hours he spent catching up, going over notes and writing papers.

"Oh, man. I never did that much studying in my life," Weems said. "I thought I was going brain-dead for a minute doing all that studying and all that make-up work. So it's good to have that all done with."

While it was going on, though, Arkansas' players used practices as their excuse to blow off steam, Pelphrey said. Arkansas first-year coach used the few days of practice that coincided with final exams to go back to basics.

The Razorbacks, 7-1 this season, ran up and down the court far less often than normal. They went through a variety of passing drills aimed to decrease their turnover count.

Basically, they did anything, Pelphrey said, to briefly distract their minds from school.

"It's interesting because it's going to be an eight-day break, but it's not so much mentally because they've been grinding away here with finals," Pelphrey said. "It is a bit of a concern, but practices have been good. Sometimes, at this point in the year, practice becomes like an outlet, because they're locked down studying all the time.

"They liked coming out and running around a little bit. So practices have been spirited."



WEDNESDAY'S TICKET

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO AT ARKANSAS

WHEN: 7:05 p.m. TV: KNWA (Cox Ch. 9)

WHERE: Bud Walton Arena

RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3

COACHES: Arkansas, John Pelphrey (7-1, 1st season; 87-68 overall, 6 seasons); Texas-San Antonio, Brooks Thompson (4-2, 2nd season; 66-38, 5 seasons)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 3-0



THOMAS, RAKESTRAW UPDATE

Arkansas forward Charles Thomas checked into the Washington County Sheriff's Office on Monday to officially begin a sentence of 20 days of community service, an office spokesman said. The sentence stems from a second-degree domestic battery incident on April 22.

The senior forward was booked at 11:41 a.m. and released at 12:35 p.m. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said, as did the office spokesman, that it was "normal operating procedure" for Thomas' photo to appear on the sheriff's office Web site. Thomas' community service activities include ongoing work at a church, a team spokesman said. Thomas will play Wednesday, Pelphrey said.

In unrelated news, freshman guard Nate Rakestraw will play Wednesday, Pelfrey said. Rakestraw has been out with a broken right pinkie finger.

— Ryan Malashock • The Morning News

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