Lots Of Minutes

FAYETTEVILLE — Forward Sonny Weems and guard Patrick Beverley have been Arkansas' most valuable players this season.

But coach John Pelphrey said in a perfect world, the talented tandem wouldn't be on the court nearly as much as they have during Southeastern Conference play this season.

Beverley and Weems are first and second on the team in minutes played in league games, logging 36.6 and 35.5, respectively. That ranks sixth and 10th in the SEC. Pelphrey said the extended minutes concerns him late in games, but there's little he can do because Arkansas is lacking backcourt depth.

"It's too high," Pelphrey said Monday. "The makeup of the team that's where they've got to be. Foul trouble, fatigue, do hurt us in the backcourt. We don't have great depth there."

Both players' stamina will be tested when the Razorbacks (17-5, 6-2 in SEC) play fourth-ranked Tennessee (21-2, 8-1) on Wednesday night. The deep and talented Volunteers have made a habit of running opponents ragged with their press under coach Bruce Pearl.

Extended minutes aren't exactly new to either player. Beverley averaged 36.6 in league play and Weems logged 33.3 in 2007. But there's an important catch: Arkansas didn't push the ball up and down the floor much under former coach Stan Heath last season.

In fact, Pelphrey is hoping the minutes Arkansas players log in the future will resemble pressing teams like Tennessee and Florida. By comparison, senior guard Chris Lofton leads the Vols in minutes (29.3) and is averaging 31.3 in conference games this season.

Pelphrey said former Kentucky great Jamal Mashburn averaged 32 minutes a game under coach Rick Pitino.

South Alabama's top scorer, Demetric Bennett, averaged 33.1 minutes in conference games under Pelphrey last season.

"As we evolve as a program, it's going to be about 25, 28 minutes," Pelphrey said. "If you're really, really good we'll let you play 30."

Last Knoxville Win

With its 73-69 victory at then-No. 10 Tennessee on Feb. 25, 2006, Arkansas handed the Vols just their second home loss since the start of the 2005-06 season. That win halted a 15-game home winning streak for Tennessee, and the Volunteers started another long streak after Kentucky beat them in Knoxville on March 1, 2006.

Tennessee has won 28 straight games, the country's fourth-longest streak, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Four of Arkansas' seniors played in that victory two seasons ago. Darian Townes scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in 23 minutes. Charles Thomas had 11 and six in 27 minutes, Vincent Hunter had 10 and seven in 16 minutes and Steven Hill had two and six in 13 minutes.

Pelphrey said that victory has no bearing on Wednesday night's contest, but Hunter said it would give the Hogs added confidence.

"We just went there and played together and played like a team," Hunter said of the 2006 win. "It was tough. The fans were crazy, loud and rude, but we rallied and fought through it."

Lofton Honored

Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors went to Lofton, the league office announced Monday afternoon. Lofton, a 6-foot-2 senior, scored 26 of Tennessee's 47 points in the Volunteers' two-point victory Saturday at LSU.

He has led the Vols in scoring in their last six games.

"Chris has really been playing well," Pearl said. "Since we got beat at Kentucky, he has started to assert himself, getting open, hitting shots and just looking and playing much like he did last year."

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