Washington's Big Effort Not Enough For Hogs

NORMAN, Okla. — First-year Arkansas coach John Pelphrey was quick to deflect the credit for Michael Washington's performance Saturday in the Razorbacks' 83-72 loss on the road to Oklahoma.

Washington had a season-high 16 points and tied a season-high with 12 rebounds in helping Arkansas stay within striking distance until the final minutes.

So Pelphrey heaped the credit for Washington's performance not on himself or Washington, but on senior forward Charles Thomas.

But Thomas didn't counsel Washington or work with the sophomore on improving his game.

He missed the bus.

"Charles is to get credit for that," Pelphrey said with a smirk, before turning serious. "We're going to try to do things the right way here."

Thomas was late arriving for Arkansas' bus trip from Fayetteville to Norman on Friday.

With Thomas on the bench to start, Washington's performance was critical to help the Razorbacks stay close against an Oklahoma team led by center Longar Longar and freshman forward Blake Griffin.

"We just wanted to play tough defense and get them out of their game and get them in foul trouble," Washington said.

They did get Griffin in foul trouble a bit after he came off the bench but the Sooners' guards helped Oklahoma stay ahead with seven first-half 3-pointers and Longar scored 17 points in a performance Sooners coach Jeff Capel said was among his best in his Oklahoma career.

Nine of Washington's 12 rebounds came on the offensive end. For the Razorbacks, 24 of their 42 rebounds came on offense.

"It was just a team thing," Washington said. "We all played together."

While Washington was being modest, Capel praised the sophomore.

"He was very good," Capel said. "He was going in and getting rebounds. But he wasn't the only one of them doing that."

Washington did more than just score down low, though.

He also hit a pair of 3-pointers, including a game-tying one midway through the second half.

Washington had hit just two 3-pointers all season entering Saturday's game.

"Mike played out of his mind tonight," Stefan Welsh said. "I knew he'd do that eventually. He was getting second, third and fourth looks tonight.

"Nothing he did surprised me."

The start was Washington's second of the season and third of his career. He also started the 67-51 loss to Providence and Arkansas' season-ending loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament last year.

It was his second double-double. His first came Dec. 3 against Missouri State.

While Washington was turning in his best game this season and likely his best game so far as a Razorback, Thomas had seven points and three rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench.

Still, though, Washington's performance wasn't enough to break Arkansas of its road woes.

"We probably let down a little bit there at the end," Washington said. "We just tried to come out of here with a win.

"It's disappointing but we've got to get over this game quickly."

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