Of all the knockout punches that the University of Arkansas has thrown at Bud Walton Arena this season, perhaps Wednesday night's was the most powerful.
The Razorbacks leveled a 21-0 first-half haymaker on LSU and went on to down the Tigers 87-61 before 16,212 fans.
New starter Gary Ervin had 17 points, Darian Townes 12, Sonny Weems 11 and new reserve Stefan Welsh 10 each as the Razorbacks (18-7, 7-4) ended a two-game losing streak.
"We just came out and really played well tonight, shot the ball well, played defense well and really took care of our business," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "This team plays best when it is on edge. It's unfortunate that we had to lose two games to get that edge back."
Patrick Beverley added 9 points and 9 rebounds and Vincent Hunter 9 points in the victory, which also moved Arkansas within a game of SEC West leader Mississippi State (17-8, 8-3), who lost 74-63 at Ole Miss on Wednesday night.
Arkansas, 13-1 at home this season, has won 5 of its last seven conference games after a 2-2 start and has a trip to Kentucky on the schedule for Saturday.
"We have to go out and play with this same intensity against Kentucky," Beverley said. "We had good guard play tonight because Gary and Stefan really stepped it up for us."
Terry Martin had 17 points and Anthony Randolph 16 for LSU (9-16, 2-9), who had won its last road game at Florida and also played well against Tennessee and Kentucky in close losses at home.
"It wasn't a helpless feeling," Martin said. "Most of the time we've been able to come back. This was the first time we just got punched in the mouth."
Tigers interim head coach Butch Pierre, who took over for the fired John Brady, was effusive in his praise of the Razorbacks."
"Give Arkansas a lot of credit for coming out and playing a tough ballgame tonight," Pierre said. "They have some of the best guards in the league and at times have one of the best backcourts in the country. This is the type of team that can scare you come tournament time."
On a night when there was a lunar eclipse happening outside, Pierre saw his team get blindsided by Arkansas' 3-point shooting.
At one point in the first half, the Razorbacks were 8 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished 9 of 13 in a first half where they led 51-28 at the break.
"They shot in rhythm all night and we were having trouble getting open looks," Pierre said. "When we did get an open look, we just couldn't knock it down. Our boys never gave up. They kept fighting despite Arkansas' fast start."
The Tigers did play without leading scorer Marcus Thornton for most of the game because of an existing ankle injury limiting him to four minutes.
"Not having Marcus Thornton hurt us tonight," Pierre said. "I think Arkansas probably came in planning on making him their main focus and him not being out there definitely hurt us."
LSU scored five straight points to tie the game at 14-14, but that was the last time it was a contest.
Weems' bucket started a spree that included a trio of 3-pointers and an old-fashioned 3-point play and was capped by Townes' tip-in that put Arkansas up 35-14 with 8:05 remaining left before intermission.
"I didn't even know (about the 21-0 run)," Welsh said. "I looked up and we were up seven. I looked back up and we were up 20. We just started knocking down our shots."
The Razorbacks, who shot 52 percent from the field in the game and knocked down 11 3-pointers, ripped off six points in one 11-second span, 8 in 30 seconds and 14 in less than 75 seconds.
It brought about three timeouts called by LSU, who played most of the game without injured starter, to go along with a televlsion timeout.
"Their defense was able to turn a lot of our turnovers into offensive baskets," Tigers guard Garrett Temple said. "We weren't as focused as we should have been. I know that's why it is so hard to win on the road, especially a young team like us."
The Razorbacks continued to step on the pedal and took a 51-28 lead to the break – their largest of the half - when Townes scored inside with 48 seconds left.
Arkansas shot a sizzling 69 percent from the behind the 3-point line in the first half and 58.8 percent overall.
Ervin's basket with 12:55 in the game pushed the lead to 27 and Townes' dunk surged the Razorbacks ahead 71-46 with 10:21 remaining.
Soon after that Pelphrey began emptying the bench with every non-redshirting player getting into the rout.
Arkansas will return to action Saturday when it travels to face Kentucky (14-10, 8-3) in a 1:05 p.m.game at Rupp Arena that will be televised by CBS.
Pelphrey, whose played at Kentucky and had his jersey retired, tried to play off the next game.
"I didn't even notice they were up next," Pelphrey joked. "We try to focus on what is right in front of us and go one game at a time. Going into my alma mater, it means so much for me to go in there and win. It will be a big road challenge, but we are excited and ready to go."
Gary Ervin scores two of his team-high 17 points.
Stefan Welsh had 10 first-half points off the bench against LSU.
Darian Townes gets loose inside.
Steven Hill throws one down over LSU's Chris Johnson (21) and Alex Farrer.
Sonny Weems drives to the basket against Garrett Temple.
Patrick Beverley looks for an opening with Bo Spencer defending.
UA head coach John Pelphrey reacts on Wednesday night.
Arkansas 87, LSU 61
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