The Warhawks proved to be quite feisty in the opening half Saturday afternoon, but had no answers for the Razorbacks after intermission.
Darian Townes , Patrick Beverley and Sonny Weems all had 17 points and Charles Thomas 12 as the University of Arkansas downed the University of Louisiana-Monroe 85-60 Saturday afternoon before 13,714 at Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks (10-3) took control with a 24-6 run to open the second half that turned a 46-38 halftime lead into a 70-44 advantage on Weems' jumper at the 9:10 mark.
"I am very excited about having the chance to win," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "The game was kind of close the first half, but we started to take it over the second half. As a team we are going to forget about our past losses and try to have more consistency on a higher playing level."
The win left Arkansas, which was coming off an upset loss to Appalachian State in North Little Rock, with only a non-conference game against Baylor next Saturday in Dallas left before jumping into SEC action.
""We played great," Weems said. "Everybody's focused after a loss. No one like losing and we just had to come back. I had a good break and it's good to get a win after a break. We had some good practices after the break and now we're going to focus on Baylor."
The Razorbacks won despite a nice effort from Warhawks' Jonas Brown, who had 17 of his game-high 21 points in the opening half for ULM (6-7).
"The way they pressed and how active they are, I knew we had to be prepared," ULM head coach Orlando Early said. "I just expected the score to be closer...What I liked the most about how Arkansas played is that they really didn't press' they showed they can play the half court game."
ULM was without starting senior guard Lance Brasher, who was averaging 9.3 points per game coming in for a team that normally starts four guards and has won at Iowa and lost at Kansas, Michigan State and Ole Miss this season.
"I thought we caught a break with Brasher being out," Pelphrey said. "He is a young man they play at the power forward spot a lot and it makes for a very difficult match-up with him offensively because he can really shoot as well."
Pelphrey had seen many of these players the last two seasons while he was coaching at South Alabama and playing ULM three times.
"This was not a situation where they were going to be blown away or run over by this," Pelphrey said. "They had Michigan State tied in the second half, they beat Iowa, it was a very close game with Mississippi at the break. In college basketball, you never know."
Arkansas won by shooting 50.8 percent from the field, 65.5 in the first half, hitting 17 of their 23 free throws and forcing 24 turnovers with 15 of their own.
Inside guys Thomas and Townes combined to go 11-for-11 from the free throw line with Thomas hitting all 8 of his his and Townes his three.br>
"Our problem was that we just couldn't score the ball against them in that second half," Early said. "They were just too good defensively."
Steven Hill who swatted away three shots on the Warhawks' opening possession although he was called for a foul on the last one, set the tone defensively.
Arkansas also got a nice defensive lift early on in the game from walk-on Steven Cox, the redshirt sophomore from Jonesboro who was a Razorback golfer his first two years on campus.
With Arkansas down 14-13, Cox checked in and forced a turnover that resulted in a Patrick Beverley lay-up on the other end.
Cox then fed Michael Washington for a 15-footer before being replaced by Stefan Welsh, who buried a 3-pointer and then watched as Darian Townes slammed one home on the break and added a free throw for a 23-16 lead at the 12:40 mark.
Cox was basically filling in for freshman Marcus Britt, who was out with a sprained ankle, but should be ready to play against Baylor.
"Marcus was out with a sprained ankle and couldn't go," Pelphrey said. "Cox is a very good perimeter defender. He has shown me in practice that he is physical enough to defend the guy and I think he is stong enough to get in there and get a rebound."
Louisiana-Monroe responded with seven straight points to take back the lead but a 6-0 spree gave the Razorbacks the lead for the rest of the night.
Townes' lay-up with 1:08 left pushed the lead to 10, but Jordan Payne's bucket cut it to 46-38 at halftime.
ULM was 4-of-9 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, but just 2 of 11 after the intermission for a 6-of-20 day.
"We knew coming into the game that they were a big three-point shooting team," Townes said. "They had undersized post players, but they were strong."
That lead had grown to 62-42 by the time Beverley scored off a turnover with 11:48 left in the game.
Five straight points by Weems soon had that at 70-44 with 9:10 remaining.
Ervin's 4-point play – a 3-pointer while being fouled made it 80-51 with just over four minutes left.
"We won the first 10 minutes of the game, but we knew we had to stay focused for the entire game," Thomas said. "We knew they could come back. Coach Pelphrey wanted us to take away the 3-pointers and we were able to do that."
Hill, who had 7 of his team's first 9 points, added 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks before fouling out.
The win sets up next Saturday's game with Baylor at American Airlines Arena.
"I believe the Baylor game is going to be big and full of excitement," Pelphrey said. "It helps for the game to be in Dallas because I know we will always have support there."
UA 85, ULM 60
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