Weems: Aggressive Play the Key

Arkansas was missing Charles Thomas, but it hardly mattered in a 78-58 victory over Mississippi State.

Sonny Weems didn't want to say Arkansas didn't miss suspended starter Charles Thomas in a 78-58 victory over Mississippi State.

"He's a big part of our team," Weems said. "We always could use a player like Charles Thomas. Like tonight, we had him out there with us, we'd won by 40, not 20."

As it was, the Hogs replaced Thomas with Michael Washington and Vincent Hunter with fine results. Washington scored 8 points and added four rebounds while Hunter hit a 3-point shot and added three rebounds.

"We've got depth so we didn't worry," center Stephen Hill said. "We knew we'd be fine with Michael and Vincent in there, so we just came out and played our normal game."

It may not have been normal. The Hogs turned in one of their finer games over the last few seasons, not just during the John Pelphrey era.

"It was a good game, but hopefully it wasn't the best we can play," Hill said. "I hope we didn't peak tonight and we keep adding to it."

The Hogs forced 22 turnovers, limited MSU to 40 percent shooting and launched 12 more shots from the field than the Bulldogs.

"We were aggressive on defense and that needs to be where it starts," Weems said. "But we also stayed aggressive on defense, too. I took some shots to start the second half that didn't fall and I thought maybe I better stop shooting, but coach told me to stay aggressive and to keep taking the open shot. So I did, and tried to take what the defense gave me."

Weems was proud of Washington and the rest of the Arkansas inside players for attacking the rim all night.

"The game plan was to go at their bigs with our bigs," Weems said. "We stuck to the game plan and attacked until the end. I thought we rattled them with our defensive pressure and we also did a good job of attacking.

"Part of it was to get their bigs in foul trouble, but the other part was to get to the foul line. Our guards attacked, too."

Weems played 28 minutes and was part of a calculated personnel shuffle throughout the game.

"I picked up a couple of fouls and even in the first half coach was getting me in and out to keep me protected and out of more serious foul trouble," Weems said. "That was what that was about."

Picking up an early foul also nixed part of the game plan. Weems was supposed to cover MSU's Jamont Gordon in man-to-man coverage, but that didn't last long.

"That quick foul changed that," he said. "I wanted to cover him, but coach took me off of him. I like to cover the other team's top player, but it was important for me to stay out of foul trouble."


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