Oklahoma Hot, Arkansas Not

NORMAN, Okla. — Three words always pop into John Pelphrey's mind when the topic of scoring points is broached. "Shooting is fickle," is the phrase Arkansas' first-year coach always utters.

Well, Pelphrey had that thought to fall back on Saturday afternoon, moments after watching his Razorbacks fall 83-72 at Oklahoma. The Sooners (8-3) simply made shots. The Hogs (8-2) did not.

And because of those two facts, Arkansas' six-game winning streak ended in front of a season-high crowd of 12,077 in the Lloyd Noble Center.

"They just knocked down a few more shots than we did," sophomore guard Stefan Welsh said. "We were getting good looks, but we just didn't knock down enough of them. We have great shooters on this basketball team.

"Like Coach (Pelphrey) says, we have to shoot the ball with confidence, and we were taking shots with confidence."

The shots just weren't falling, though. Fickle is only one way of describing the Hogs' frustrating day of hoisting up attempts. Check out a thesaurus and look up fickle. Unstable, erratic, freakish, inconsistent, unpredictable, unsteady — any of those terms could've accurately described Arkansas.

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said his Sooners knew Arkansas could experience problems with its long-range shooting.

"Our guys paid attention to detail and got out to shooters," Capel said. "Coming in we knew they didn't shoot a good percentage from 3."

So though Arkansas' fickleness wasn't all that unexpected, it was actually pretty defined.

The Razorbacks thrived offensively at times in the first half. They got out in transition. They drained four of their 10 attempts from 3-point range. They snagged 10 offensive rebounds and scored 12 second-chance points.

That all helped Arkansas rally from yet another slow start, one that looked so similar to those last season when the Hogs went 2-7 on the road. All the while, the Sooners kept up, taking a 45-39 halftime lead.

"They hit some shots when we defended hard for 33, 34 seconds," Welsh said.

But Arkansas never scored in similar ways Saturday, especially in the second half.

The Hogs missed 12 of their 13 shots from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. The misses — five by Patrick Beverley, two each by Sonny Weems and Michael Washington and one each by Welsh, Gary Ervin and Charles Thomas — countered quality play in other areas. For instance, Arkansas tied a season low with 10 turnovers.

Pelphrey joked that he had a remedy for the shooting woes.

"I'm going to fire the shooting coach, that's what I'm going to do," Pelphrey said. "I don't who know that is yet. Nobody stepped up back there to take credit for that."

All that said, the Razorbacks still had a chance to defeat an Oklahoma team that lost at home last Saturday to Stephen F. Austin. Arkansas rallied to tie the game at 60 with eight minutes left, and the Sooners led just 68-65 when the teams paused for the final media timeout.

"Forget about everything that has happened and let's focus and concentrate on this 3:54," was Capel's message.

His Sooners listened, and the Razorbacks looked like they couldn't ignore the first 36-some minutes. In a 60-second span, Oklahoma's Longar Longar hit two free throws, Austin Johnson drained a 3-pointer and Longar soared for a thunderous dunk. Meanwhile, the Hogs missed two shots and committed a turnover.

Game over. Road struggles continued.

"You just have to give Oklahoma credit," Pelphrey said. "Some of the things we were trying to do, they were just better at it."

Shooting was first and foremost.

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