Thomas Welcomed Back By Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas senior Charles Thomas has been welcomed back after serving a one-game suspension for violating unspecified team rules.

Coach John Pelphrey said the senior practiced with the Razorbacks (15-5, 4-2 in Southeastern Conference) in preparation for Saturday's game against No. 20 Florida (18-3, 5-1). He also said Thomas will suit up against the Gators.

"He will play provided, like anybody else, we conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner in the next two days," Pelphrey said.

Thomas wasn't on Arkansas' sideline for the 78-58 win against Mississippi State on Wednesday night. He was replaced by sophomore Michael Washington and senior Vincent Hunter, who combined to score 11 points and grab 7 rebounds to help the Hogs gain ground on the Bulldogs in the SEC Western Division championship race.

It was the third time Thomas — who is fourth on the team in scoring (10.5 points) and second in rebounding (5.1 boards) — has been punished for disciplinary reasons. He also was pulled from the starting lineup against Providence and Oklahoma earlier this season.

But Arkansas center Steven Hill said the Hogs are glad to have him back.

"It just adds to our depth," Hill said. "We showed off some of the depth we have at the big-man position (against MSU). Whenever you put another body against a team like Florida, we'll be really good.

"Obviously Charles plays really, really well. We'll take all we can get."

Pelphrey hasn't decided whether Thomas will reclaim his starting spot or turn to Washington, who started his third game Wednesday.

But Hill said Thomas has apologized for his misstep and believes he'll rebound Saturday whether he is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.

"Charles has just tried to be the good teammate he really is," Hill said. "He's expressed that he's very, very sorry for what happened and he's just going to continue to work hard and try to continue to be a good leader."

Beverley on Board

Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley is tied with Alabama forward Richard Hendrix for the SEC lead in rebounding in league games (10.5).

The sophomore said the amazing statistic doesn't mean much right now, but it has left quite an impression on some of the SEC's coaches.

"It's not something that's done often," LSU coach John Brady said. "It's not something that's feasible. It's something that probably shouldn't happen. But you get a guy that's tough-minded and fearless and you never know."

Beverley — who also is averaging 14.4 points — has had 10 or more rebounds in four of Arkansas' six league games. He is one of three players averaging a double-double in SEC play, joining Hendrix and Ole Miss center Dwayne Curtis.

"I just go out there and keep doing what's necessary to win basketball games," Beverley said.

New Addition

Arkansas welcomed a new player to its roster this week: signee Andre Clark.

The 6-foot-10 forward, who attended Genesis One Christian School in Mississippi last semester, signed a national-letter-of-intent in November and has enrolled at Arkansas. The North Little Rock native will not play this season and is paying for classes this semester. He'll go on scholarship in the fall.

Clark is practicing with the team hoping to get a jump on 2008-09.

"It was an eye-opener," Clark said of his first practice. "It was very tough on me physically, mentally, a lot of changes. I'm still trying to get a feel for the real Coach Pelphrey outside of recruiting. It's been an experience for me."

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