BASKETBALL: Ervin, Welsh Shine

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin, who has come off the bench most of the season, said Monday he had no interest in regaining the starting job he lost to sophomore Stefan Welsh in November.

But the senior didn't exactly complain when Arkansas coach John Pelphrey told him during Wednesday's shootaround he was going to be on the floor for the opening tip against LSU.

Ervin replaced Welsh in the lineup during Arkansas' 87-61 win against the Tigers in Bud Walton Arena. It was his fourth start of the season and first since committing six turnovers in Arkansas' 67-51 loss to Providence on Nov. 16.

"I said it on Monday and it was known," Ervin said about not wanting the job back. "But coach still felt that was something that was going to be best for the team. ... It's just something when your name is called you have to make the best of it."

The move seemed to work for both players.

Ervin had a team-high 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in the starting role. It was the second straight game he has led the Hogs in scoring after netting 15 against Mississippi State last Saturday.

Welsh led the Hogs in scoring in the first half, getting 10 points. He finished with 10 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists, knocking down a team-high three 3-pointers.

"The only difference is I'm not out there at jump ball," Welsh said. "It is what it is with that. Either coming off the bench or starting I'm going to give my all every night. It's no big deal."

The 27 points from the point guard position was the most the tandem has combined to score this season. The previous high was 24 points at Mississippi State last Saturday.

Pelphrey was asked about the decision to start Ervin after the game, but said it was no big deal. He just wants the duo to continue playing solid basketball down the stretch.

"Point guard play is important on every basketball team," Pelphrey said. "Certainly those two guys make us play well.

"You don't find many games like this in the SEC. You point to those two guys making that happen for us."

Weems, Beverley Dinged

Arkansas may have coasted to an easy win, but leading scorer Sonny Weems left the game early after twisting his ankle midway through the second half.

Weems hopped to the bench during a timeout, which Arkansas called to get him off the floor. He didn't return, finishing with 11 points in 16 minutes.

"It's nothing," Pelphrey said. "He tweaked his ankle."

Beverley also entered the game with a minor injury, spraining his knee during Tuesday's practice. The sophomore wore a sleeve on his leg against the Tigers, but played 33 minutes.

"In practice I kind of went knee to thigh to Charles Thomas," Beverley said. "I landed awkward and did something to my (medial collateral ligament). Everything's cool though."

Thornton Hobbled Too

LSU's leading scorer, guard Marcus Thornton, spent most of the game on the Tigers' bench because of an injured hip.

Thornton, the SEC's second-leading scorer (19 points a game), had started every game. But the junior college transfer was injured against Kentucky on Saturday, missed practice time this week and was limited Wednesday.

Thornton finished with two points in four minutes. He didn't play in the second half with Arkansas in control of the game.

"That was a big distraction for our team," LSU interim coach Butch Pierre said. "Not having him hurt (Wednesday)."

Said Pelphrey: "We caught a little break with Thornton not being full speed."

Free Throws

Center Darian Townes turned in an impressive statline against the Tigers. He scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, grabbed 7 rebounds and handed out a career-high 4 assists in 18 minutes. ... Pelphrey said he wanted Arkansas to cut back on the number of fouls it committed in losses to Mississippi State (23) and Tennessee (27) last week. The Razorbacks listened, committing 17 against LSU. ... Freshman Nate Rakeshaw couldn't capitalize on the chance to score his first collegiate points Wednesday, missing two free throws in the second half. Rakeshaw, a Springdale Har-Ber High graduate, played a career-high nine minutes against LSU.

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