Arkansas 78, No. 14 Vanderbilt 73

Sonny Weems has 20 points, Patrick Beverley 17 points and 7 rebounds and Gary Ervin and Darian Townes 13 each as Arkansas downs No. 14 Vanderbilt 78-73 Saturday afternoon before 18,366 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Patrick Beverley's passion and shot returned in full force, Sonny Weems fancied himself the closer and the University of Arkansas basketball team made a much better statement than they had been making lately.

Beverley hit two huge 3-pointers late in the game, Weems drilled 6-of-6 free throws in final 10.8 seconds and Arkansas shot 58 percent from the field as the Razorbacks downed No. 14 Vanderbilt 78-73 before 18,366 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

The win boosted the Razorbacks (19-9, 8-6) to 14-1 at home this season with the only loss being to South Carolina.

"Our record at home sounds awfully good," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "The passion and excitement of our fans is just great. We played with great heart and toughness against a really good basketball team. Being at home helped our guys to overachieve."

Weems had 20 points, Beverley 17 points and 7 rebounds, Gary Ervin 13 points and 7 assists and Darian Townes 13 points as the Razorbacks won a huge game in regards to their NCAA Tournament hopes after losing 4 of their last 5.

"We understand what kind of place we're in and what it is going to take to make the NCAA Tournament," Beverley said. "It was fun playing today. Give our fans a lot of credit. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have won the basketball game."

It also was a far different effort than Arkansas – who hit 9 of its last 10 free throws - had put forth in a 59-56 loss at Alabama on Wednesday night.

That put Arkansas' road record at 2-6 this year with a game at Ole Miss looming on Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

"I don't know how to say this," Pelphrey said. "I am happy that we won, but I am not happy with this team. You saw some courage, some heart, some toughness and I would love to see that when we have to pack up our stuff and go on the road.

"We have to have a little more resolve, a little more character," Pelphrey added. "We don't need mommy cutting the corners off of our bread all the time. She doesn't have to cut our chicken nuggets up for us. We need to be men and go and play that way."

Shan Foster had 22 points, A.J. Ogilvy 20 and Ross Neltner 14 for the Commodores (24-5, 9-5), who came into the game off a win over No. 1 Tennessee on Tuesday night.

"(Arkansas) played very well, especially on the offensive end," Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said. "They made big plays and more plays than our team at the end. They've got a lot of talent. If you lined up their talent and our talent, most coaches would take their talent."

Foster, the likely SEC Player of the Year, wasw 8-of-12 from the field and 6-of-8 from 3-point range, but Arkansas did hold him without a basket from 13:17 mark to 1:39 left in the game.

"Sha was spectacular," Stallings said. "He was terrific, in fact, he's been terrific all year long. He's a great player, but every day of the week, he's a better human being than he is a basketball player."

Mississippi State downed Florida 68-59 in Gainesville on Saturday to wrap up the SEC West outright title while Arkansas' win assured it of second place and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.

"I want to continue to challenge this guys," Pelphrey said.

Beverley, who had been struggling from the field, hit 5-of-7 3-pointers in the game, - including a trio of 3-pointers in the final four minutes of the game.

"Patrick has had a tough couple of games, but in the second half he really stepped up and played with a lot of determination. All of our team really stepped up and attacked."

The first of those three gave his team the lead, his second one put the Razorbacks up 66-62 and then he was true again with 1:38 left to put his team ahead 69-65.

He also exhorted the crowd throughout the game, reminiscent of his freshman season.

"Patrick has had a tough couple of games, but in the second half he really stepped up and played with a lot of determination. All of our team really stepped up and attacked."

It was just 74-73 when Jeremy Beal hit a pair of free throws with 7.3, but Neltner then called a timeout that his team did not have.

That resulted in a technical and Weems hit both free throws and then two more with 6.9 remaining to wrap it up.

"Arkansas' players and fans brought a lot of pressure that our team couldn't handle," Neltner said. "It was a rough game and we had too many errors."

The win made Arkansas 3-0 against Top 25 teams this season in Bud Walton Arena with trips to Ole Miss on Tuesday and a Saturday home game with Auburn left on the regular season schedule.

"Coach Pelphrey let us know just now in the locker room that this it is down to crunch time," Ervin said. "We just have to feed off this emotion and carry it through the rest of the season."

Ervin, Beverley and Stefan Welsh were all showed up big on defense, too, as Vanderbilt guards Jermaine Beal and Alex Gordon combined to go 1-of-16 from the field.

"We can't have our guards go 1-for-16 from the floor on the road and expect to win," Stalllings said.

Arkansas led by 12 late in the first half, but Vandy scored the last 8 points of the first half to cut it to 40-36.

When Foster buried consecutive 3-pointers, the Commodores took a 48-47 lead and prompted an Arkansas timeout with 12:58 left in the game.

The Razorbacks regrouped and led by four a couple of times down the stretch, the final time on Beverley's fifth 3-pointer.

Foster's 3-pointer from the right corner cut it to 69-68 and gave him 1,892 career points, which broke the Vandy scoring record.

But Ervin hit a free throw and then the "6-foot-nothing guard – as his coach calls him - grabbed a key rebound after a fourth straight Commodores miss on the same possession.

"I think that may have been the play of the game," Pelphrey said. "It was good defense all the way through, but we couldn't get the rebound...Finally Gary goes upstairs to come up with a rebound. Gary is 6-feet-nothing, but he went up above the trees and came down with the rebound.

"...Looking back at it now that was a lot of fun, but it certainly was no fun when we were going through it," Pelphrey said.

He nailed two free throws to make it 72-68 before Foster bombed away with 14.6 seconds left to cut it to 72-71 and set up the late theatrics.

"It was a real good win for us today," Weems said. "Vanderbilt is a great team and fought to the end, but I am glad we were able to pull out the win."

Steven Hill had 4 blocks in 11 minutes while Vincent Hunter – who joined Townes in the starting lineup with Beverley, Weems and Ervin – added 4 points and 6 boards.

Welsh added 5 points and Charles Thomas four off of the bench.

"We need everybody out there," Pelphrey said. "Anyone that puts on a Razorback uniform has a chance to step up and get out there and play, but we really need everyone."



Arkansas' Patrick Beverley and the Razorback crowd celebrate the win."


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