Sonny Weems had a season-high 21 points, Darian Townes 17 and Patrick Beverley 16 as the University of Arkansas easily downed Northwestern (La.) State 90-59 in college basketball action Wednesday night before 12,053 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
"I thought it might have been our best overall performance of the year of advancing the basketball and finding the open man," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Our defense also played extremely well and Steven (Hill) was a real force inside blocking (four) shots."
Charles Thomas added 11 for the Razorbacks (9-2), who had their seven-game win streak stopped last Saturday at Oklahoma.
"Bouncing back from the loss on the road was something that we thought was critical and I was pleased with our performance," Pelphrey said. "I thought we were more aggressive and had better execution on offense. I thought our attitude was improved and we did a great job of trying to share the basketball."
Townes, who helped Arkansas have a 50-18 advantage on points in the paint, led the way on the boards with 7 rebounds while Thomas added 6 and Steven Hill 5 as Arkansas beat the shorter visitors to the tune of 42-30.
The Demons shot just 24 percent from the field in the first half, 36.5 percent for the game and committed 13 of their 24 turnovers in the opening half.
"We put a lot of pressure on them defensively," Townes said. "We saw earlier in the week when we watched film that they didn't handle the ball well, but we knew they were still a very good team."
Arkansas shot 56.7 percent in the opening half and 51.6 for the game with 24 assists while tossing the ball away 19 times.
"We have a chance of being a very good basketball team, but we definitely have a lot of work to do especially in the turnover area," Pelphrey said. "Nineteen turnovers are still way too even though I thought we improved in that area tonight. Turnovers are the single-most important statistic in basketball in my opinion and it is something that we have to do a better job of controlling."
Weems' 21 points was only the second time this season that the balanced Razorbacks had a player top 20 points.
"We have seven or eight guys that capable of putting up 20 points on a night," Pelphrey said. "We are very balanced so opponents are not sure who they have to stop so that makes us very difficult to defend. There is not one guy that you can key on when game planning against our team."
Arkansas started to get itself revved up on back-to-back Weems' slam dunks that sent the Razorbacks ahead 17-7 and forced a timeout from Northwestern State at the 12:09 mark.
That lead grew to 35-15 when Weems tipped in a Gary Ervin miss at the 4:21 mark.
Thomas' lay-up pushed it to 41-19 before the Razorbacks settled for a 45-25 advantage at halftime.
"Arkansas is an awfully good basketball team," Northwestern State head coach Mike McConthy said. "Their press was relentess. It was about as good I've seen. Arkansas was just really good tonight. They were phenomenal getting up and down the floor. Arkansas really runs the floor and is physical. They keep you knocked off."
The Razorbacks charged out of the locker room and ripped off the first eight points of the half, a spree capped Beverley's 3-pointer and his lay-up that got it to 53-25 just over 90 seconds into the second half.
Seven straight points by Townes and a Beverley steal and lay-up shot the Razorbacks ahead 70-36 with 12:25 left.
By the time Townes outraced everybody down court for a dunk, it was 81-49 and many in the crowd began heading for the exits.
"We have played some decent people, but the physical play of (Arkansas') bigs is as good as I have seen in nine years," McConathy said. "We've played some physical teams, but Arkansas can also run."
Trey Gilder had 17 to lead the way for Northwestern State while Jerry Moody added 12.
Arkansas plays Appalachian State at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock on Saturday afternoon at 2:05.
Photos by Marc Henning
Sonny Weems puts down one of his several spectacular dunks on a night when he scored a season-high 21 points.
Darian Townes gets behind the defense for a dunk.
Patrick Beverley picks up one of his team's 11 steals during the game.
Charles Thomas hits the floor for a loose ball.
The Arkansas bench celebrates after freshman Levan Patsatsia puts in a acrobatic lay-up near the end of the game.
Vincent Hunter battles Trey Gilder inside on Wednesday night.
Arkansas 90, Northwestern St. 59
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