Razorbacks Get Break After All

FAYETTEVILLE — The threat was issued Thursday. Lose to Appalachian State and forget about your Christmas break, first-year coach John Pelphrey told his Razorbacks.

At the time, the seriousness of Pelphrey's warning wasn't really known.

"Did I say that?" he joked that day at his news conference.

Well, after the Razorbacks put him on the spot with their 74-67 loss Saturday in Alltel Arena, Pelphrey decided that depriving them of family time wasn't right.

Arkansas' players will get a three-day break from practice after all, a break that started Sunday. And Pelphrey will even take his family home to Kentucky for some much-needed down time.

"They're going home," Pelphrey said at his postgame news conference in North Little Rock. "I just feel like it's best right now."

Of course, his players would've understood if Pelphrey had decided to follow through on his decree.

"It surprised me," Arkansas senior Sonny Weems said. "We shouldn't deserve it."

Maybe Pelphrey hopes the Hogs (9-3) will return from the brief hiatus having forgotten the troubled areas that resulted in them losing two games in eight days. Mainly, poor shot selection, abysmal free throw shooting and inconsistent defense doomed Arkansas in defeats at Oklahoma and to the Mountaineers of the Southern Conference.

Arkansas made just 5 of its 23 attempts from 3-point range against the Sooners and just 3 of 11 against the Mountaineers. The Hogs now rank last in the Southeastern Conference in 3-point percentage and 306th nationally in 3-point field goals. And they've been just as bad from the free throw line — 9 of 17 against Oklahoma and 14 of 25 against Appalachian State.

As for the erratic defense Saturday, Pelphrey said he thought Arkansas just couldn't stay focused enough to guard the Mountaineers deep into the shot clock.

"I don't think we dogged it," Pelphrey said. "You just have to give those guys credit. They were really efficient. I mean, they turned it over. They had 23 turnovers, but they also had 17 assists.

"When you have that many assists, you're obviously executing at a really high level."

In addition to those issues, Arkansas freshman Marcus Britt believes the Razorbacks need to take their opponents more seriously.

"We didn't come out focused or aggressive (Saturday)," Britt said. "Really I think everybody was worried about vacation, instead of being focused on this game. We weren't focused right. We didn't come with the right attitude.

"So we've got to come back on the 26th and get better as a team."


Here are Arkansas' previous five defeats to non-major conference schools before its 74-67 loss to Appalachian State on Saturday in Alltel Arena in North Little Rock:

Date Opponent Site Score

Mar. 17, 2006 Bucknell* Dallas 59-55

Dec. 22, 2003 Western Carolina Fayetteville 62-59 (OT)

Dec. 3, 2003 Troy St. Fayetteville 74-66

Nov. 30, 2003 Tulsa Fayetteville 61-60

Nov. 26, 2003 Oral Roberts Tulsa 76-64

* — NCAA Tournament first round

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