North Little Rock Shock

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — As basketball scores flashed onto ESPN's ticker late Saturday afternoon and into the evening, Appalachian State 74, Arkansas 67 surely caused quite a few double-takes. It wasn't the first time in 2007 that this Southern Conference school located in Boone, N.C., created a national stir.

The Mountaineers startled the college football world with a season-opening upset at Michigan. But it was the basketball squad's turn Saturday afternoon to shock the masses, and the Mountaineers and Razorbacks each realized the significance of such an unexpected outcome.

"The biggest win in the nation today," Appalachian State coach Houston Fancher said.

The Razorbacks, meanwhile, were left to sulk back to their locker room in disbelief as the Mountaineers (5-5) celebrated. A few players even covered their faces, and tears, with their jerseys as the rest of a crowd of 10,835 filed out of Alltel Arena.

With bloodshot eyes, Arkansas senior Sonny Weems struggled to find the right words to describe his disappointment. Finally, he settled for the only thought that came to mind, a phrase that oozed frustration.

"Man, there's no way in hell we should lose to Appalachian State," Arkansas senior Sonny Weems said. "No way."

Well, believe it, Sonny.

The Mountaineers handed the Razorbacks (9-3) their first regular-season defeat by a mid-major conference foe since losing 62-59 to Western Carolina on Dec. 22, 2003. And they did so with spectacular shooting accuracy, converting 66.7 percent of their shots, including 11 of their 14 second-half attempts.

For five minutes, though, an Arkansas loss seemed improbable. The Razorbacks burst out to a 15-7 lead, energizing their fans and envisioning a blowout.

"We had the chance right then," Razorback senior Charles Thomas said. "We could have put them away."

But Arkansas didn't.

Sophomore guard Patrick Beverley, who finished with just five points, sat out the rest of the first half with two fouls. And the Mountaineers began to chip away at Arkansas' lead with efficient offense and persistent defense.

"Somehow, someway, they started dictating what went on with their offense," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said.

Appalachian State's patient offense "was our best defense," Fancher said. The Mountaineers, who beat Vanderbilt last season for their only other SEC victory, held on to the ball for most of the shot clock on nearly every possession.

Eventually, they worked toward a high-percentage shot. And they didn't miss often. Freshman guard Donald Sims, a reserve who averages 8.8 points per game, tallied 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. He drained three 3-pointers and helped the Mountaineers turn the eight-point deficit into a 41-33 halftime lead. Appalachian State then turned to the inside in the second half, as thick-bodied forward Donte Minter continually scored with an array of post moves. Minter had 14 of his 20 points after halftime.

"Coach (Pelphrey) prepared us for him," Thomas said. "We knew he was going to the left hand. And he went to the left hand every time. We just have to be disciplined."

The Razorbacks lacked that discipline on the offensive end, as well, often settling for low-percentage looks. They managed to cut the Appalachian State lead to 67-65, but Sims swished his last 3-pointer of the afternoon with 1:14 left, and Arkansas didn't get closer.

Afterward, Fancher credited a Little Rock TV station with firing up his team Friday night. Fancher said a news anchor stated the Mountaineers could only win if they brought their football team.

"This was more about us and getting respect, and our guys were offended by that," Fancher said.

Appalachian State 74, Arkansas 67

Why The Mountaineers Won

Appalachian State shot 66.7 percent from the field (28 of 42), outrebounded Arkansas 33-22 and received 44 points from Donald Sims (24) and Donte Minter (20).

Why The Razorbacks Lost

Arkansas converted just 12 of its 32 second-half shots, couldn't take enough advantage of 23 Applachian State turnovers and made just 14 of its 25 free throws.

That Figures

0 Number of blocks by Steven Hill and Darian Townes, the first time this season neither recorded any

5 Game-high steals swiped by Marcus Britt

6 Blocks and assists registered by Minter, who grabbed a team-high nine rebounds

16 Shots taken by Sonny Weems, who drained just five and finished with 11 points

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