Razorbacks Unselfish In 25-Point Victory

FAYETTEVILLE — Steven Hill slammed a lob feed from Sonny Weems. Patrick Beverley hauled in a Weems pass and finished a fast break with a layup. Darian Townes found Beverley open for a basket. Stephen Cox snapped a pass to Michael Washington for a 15-footer. Beverley fed Stefan Welsh for a 3-pointer, and Townes dunked after an Ervin pass.

Those six assists in six minutes foreshadowed a Saturday of selfless sharing throughout Arkansas' 85-60 victory over Louisiana-Monroe before 13,714 fans in Bud Walton Arena.

"Everybody was playing unselfish basketball," said Townes, one of three Razorbacks to tally a team-high 17 points. "Nobody was trying to go out there and have a highlight game. Everybody was just sharing the basketball and playing within the system."

Arkansas' offensive problems this season have usually stemmed from taking low-percentage shots. The Razorbacks have gotten in the habit of settling for quick looks instead of patiently waiting for better attempts.

But in downing the Warhawks, the Hogs (10-3) embraced first-year coach John Pelphrey's wish for them to play team basketball.

They kept an eye out for one another. They made the extra pass. They cared for assists just as much as points. And in doing so, they dished out 22 assists, their second-highest total this season.

"We're just an unselfish team," Arkansas senior Sonny Weems said. "We don't want all the glory. We just want to win."

The Razorbacks especially wanted a victory after their surprisingly dismal effort in their previous contest. Weems said he and his teammates could now finally forget about Arkansas' loss on Dec. 22 to Appalachian State.

For 10 minutes, however, that didn't seem like a guarantee. Louisiana-Monroe (6-7) matched Arkansas shot for shot, taking a 27-26 lead halfway through the first half, and Pelphrey understandably was in the mood to get vocal.

"I was pretty hard on them through the first half," Pelphrey said. "Today wasn't the kind of day where we needed a pat on the back. It was the kind of day they needed a kick in the rear."

His stern message was received, and acted upon.

Arkansas forced 24 turnovers and swarmed the Warhawks during the game's final 30 minutes. In fact, Louisiana-Monroe managed just 34 points throughout the final three-fourths of the contest. Making that scoring total even more impressive was the fact that Arkansas didn't stretch its pressure beyond the mid-court line often.

"What I liked most about how Arkansas played is that they really didn't press us much," Warhawks coach Orlando Early said. "They showed they could lock us down in the half court."

Meanwhile, Arkansas continued to share. The Razorbacks didn't shoot as well in the second half as they did in the first, when they converted 65.6 percent of their shots (21 of 32). But nine of their 11 second-half field goals came on assists, and Arkansas gradually built its lead to as high as 30 points.

Pelphrey was impressed with his team's improved unselfishness. But he said the Razorbacks still committed too many miscues that offset the assists.

"I thought it was better," Pelphrey said. "I saw some positive stuff. There's still a few too many turnovers where we're just staring down the pass we're going to make. We have to remove those types of plays, because those five or six possessions can swing a basketball game."

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