BATON ROUGE – As it will no doubt be for many teams this season, a trip to LSU was the cure for the University of Arkansas' ills on Saturday night.
Sonny Weems had all 19 of his 21 points in the opening half and Patrick Beverley notched a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds as the Razorbacks downed the Tigers 68-52 before a announced crowd of 8,860 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Gary Ervin added 10 points and 5 assists in a victory that ended a two-game losing skid for Arkansas (14-5, 3-2) while sending injury-plagued LSU (7-12, 0-5) to its eighth straight loss.
"I would have been surprised if our effort hadn't been tremendous tonight, but you never know as a coach, " Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "But I really believed we would come in here tonight and give our best effort of the year. I thought we would get up off the floor after the loss at Georgia. I thought we would be a better team."
Beverley, just a 6-1 guard, has now had a whopping 45 rebounds in his last four games.
"It's just staggering," Pelphrey said. "It is interesting that everybody always ask 'me what's going on with Patrick, what's going on with Patrick.' There is nothing wrong with Patrick. On the offensive side he is not going to sneak up on anybody...He's first or second on the team in scoring, but the rebounding, his toughness, his heart, taking charges, diving on the floor. He sees those at game-winning plays and he was there for every one of them."
Beverley says the win was the result of a bonding of his team and a defense which held LSU to a 29 percent night from the field.
"I think we came out more together as a group," Beverley said. "We understand that it is a long season, but the season is coming to end. There's only about 11 more games left. We understand we need to play them as a team. LSU is a team that you have to respect, but I think our defense was the difference."
Marcus Thornton had 20 points to lead the Tigers while Anthony Randolph added 14 and reserve Alex Farrer chipped in 11 in a game that was televised by ESPN Classic.
"I don't know why we weren't as aggressive to start the game," LSU head coach John Brady said. "On the other hand Sonny Weems made some some baskets over us...I think our team fought hard."
Weems knocked down 5-of-5 3-pointers in the first half, including two during a 19-4 spurt that surged the Razorbacks ahead 22-9 with 11:52 left in the opening half.
"I have been working on it (3-point shooting) in practice," Weems said. "I wasn't trying to shoot that many. I usually shoot two or three per game, but I was hot so I just kept shooting."
Consecutive triples by Beverley and Weems gave Arkansas a 34-16 lead at the 4:22 mark.
Ervin's driving lay-up with 43.1 seconds left in the opening half capped the scoring and sent the Razorbacks to the break with a 39-22 lead.
"Coach Pelphrey and everyone on the coaching staff has really been challenging us and the last couple of games we lost mostly because we didn't play good enough defense," Beverley said.
LSU stormed out of the locker room, scoring the first eight points of the second half and eventually cut it to 42-34 on Thornton's lay-up with 16:17 left in the game.
The Tigers actually had a chance to cut it to 5, but Randolph's 3 rimmed out on one end and Beverley netted his for a six –point swing and a 47-36 lead.
LSU never got closer than 10 after that point and by the time Beverley buried another 3 with 4:41 remaining to make it 60-45, the place was emptying out.
"The week off really helped us," Weems said. "We had a stronger mindset. We just came in and concentrated on defense."
Arkansas shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, but just 43 percent for the game while LSU shot a dismal 27 percent on the night.
The Razorbacks hit 10-of-15 3 pointers and 12-of-15 free throws in the victory.
Arkansas will return to action at home on Wednesday night when it host SEC West-leading Mississippi State (14-5, 5-0) in a 7:05 p.m. game.
"That's going to be a big game for us," Beverley said. "We nearly got into a fight last year so I am sure it will be a battle."
Arkansas 68, LSU 52
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