Consistent Energy Highlights

FAYETTEVILLE — He already appreciated the effort his Razorbacks had shown in the first 37 minutes of Arkansas' 90-59 win over Northwestern (La.) State. But a late-game scramble on the Bud Walton Arena floor had first-year coach John Pelphrey clapping and complimenting as if Wednesday night's game had just started.

Vincent Hunter tapped the ball away from a Demon and dove to the floor. Michael Washington plunged in that direction. Marcus Britt crashed onto the court and got part of his hand on the ball, finally forcing a held ball.

Thirty-seven minutes in, with a 30-point lead, the Razorbacks were still pressuring, still harassing.

"I thought the hustle was great tonight," Pelphrey said. "I thought guys were on the floor. We were going for loose balls and weren't standing out watching it. Guys took their tuxedos off, got on the floor and got down and dirty and nasty, and that's good to see."

Other areas did factor into Arkansas' victory, which came by the largest margin of the season. Before an announced crowd of 12,053, the Hogs tied a season high with 24 assists, doing "the best job this season as far as sharing the basketball," Pelphrey said.

The Razorbacks (9-2) overpowered NSU (4-8) with 50 points in the paint. They overwhelmed the Demons with 23 fast-break points. They had four players score in double figures, led by Sonny Weems' season-high 21 points.

Demons coach Mike McConathy even said Arkansas was the most physical team in the frontcourt that he had seen in his nine seasons in Natchitoches, La.

But it was Arkansas' defense, which forced a season-best 24 turnovers, that allowed the Hogs to build a quick lead in the first half. The Demons, members of the Southland Conference, simply couldn't handle Arkansas' hectic, high-intensity defense. The Razorbacks forced 13 first-half turnovers — 11 in the first 12 minutes, 12 seconds.

And just two of those 11 miscues were self-inflicted. So this wasn't the Demons dribbling off their legs or firing off-target passes into the stands.

This was wilting under pressure.

"We saw on film that they couldn't really handle the ball real well," Arkansas forward Darian Townes said. "So once we saw that, we put a lot of heat on them."

Back in the starting lineup, Charles Thomas set the tone on NSU's second possession by leaving the court for the Demons' first turnover. The senior forward tipped a pass, and then leapt over press row and into the lap of ARSN color commentator Jimmy Dykes.

In the process, he saved the ball, sent a TV monitor crashing to the floor and started a fast break Sonny Weems finished with a left-handed layup. Still, Thomas didn't want to accept any credit for fueling Arkansas' frantic flurry.

"I think the tone was set in practice," Thomas said. "We had great practices after the Oklahoma loss. We got in the gym immediately Sunday, and we went really hard. The coaches pushed us to the limit, and it carried over."

Turnovers came in bunches after Thomas' inspirational dive.

The Hogs forced a 10-second violation. Patrick Beverley stripped the ball from Devin White, sprawled onto the floor and flung the ball off him and out of bounds. The Demons threw two awry passes in the backcourt against full-court Razorback pressure.

Weems stuck out his left hand, swiped a pass and drove the length of the court for a dunk. Gary Ervin drew a charge. Stefan Welsh did, as well. And Michael Washington soared high for a backcourt steal.

By that time, Arkansas led 28-13 and the lead only increased from there.

"I think for our basketball team, that kind of hustle is where it all starts," Pelphrey said.

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