Razorbacks Reliable From 3-Point Line

FAYETTEVILLE — The 3-point shot provided Arkansas coach John Pelphrey with his share of headaches earlier this season. Senior Sonny Weems missed his first 13 attempts from 3-point range, and the Razorbacks entered Southeastern Conference play shooting 31 percent on 3s, last in the league.

At the time, it looked like pounding the ball inside would become the only way for the Hogs to win games. But buoyed by making 9 of 16 from beyond the arc Saturday against No. 18 Vanderbilt, Arkansas moved into second place during conference play in 3-point percentage. Since its SEC slate began, Arkansas has converted 36.6 of its 3-point flings (98 of 268).

Weems and sophomore Patrick Beverley, who exploded for five 3s in Arkansas' 78-73 win Saturday, have attributed the increased percentage to extra time in the gym.

"We all just work on our shot," Weems said. "It's all about being confident with your shot. And to be confident, you have to put in the hours. You have to be willing to work overtime, and that's what we've been doing."

The Hogs must not have been in the gym as much early in the season.

In 14 nonconference contests, Arkansas drained at least six 3-pointers in only four games. But since its conference opener at Auburn, in which the Razorbacks nailed nine 3s, Arkansas has surpassed five 3s in 11 of 14 games. Other than during the trip to Auburn and during the recent win over Vanderbilt, some of Arkansas' best performances from 3-point range include:

• A 10-for-15 effort in a 68-52 win on Jan. 26 at LSU.

• An 8 of 20 performance in an 80-74 loss on Feb. 16 at Mississippi State.

• An 11 of 23 output in an 87-61 win on Feb. 20 over LSU.

• An 8-for-18 afternoon in a 63-58 loss on Feb. 23 at Kentucky.

So as the stats reveal, connecting on 3s at an above-average rate doesn't guarantee victories. In fact, the trend has also hurt the Razorbacks by giving them a false sense of security at times. This past Wednesday night at Alabama, in a disappointing 59-56 defeat, the Hogs just kept on shooting from 20 feet and beyond.

They missed early. They missed often. And they kept on missing. Sophomore Stefan Welsh figured he could just shoot out of his funk but never did, missing six of his seven 3s.

The good has often outweighed the bad, however. And senior center Darian Townes has noticed how the improved percentage has opened things up for him and his fellow post players.

"When we get the ball inside, we're always looking for those guys to try and get them shots," Townes said. "And when Sonny and Patrick and Stefan and Gary (Ervin) are making those shots, it makes it real hard to guard us."



TUESDAY'S TICKET

ARKANSAS AT OLE MISS

WHEN: 8 p.m. TV: ESPN (Cox Ch. 25/732HD)

WHERE: Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss.

RECORDS: Arkansas, 19-9, 8-6 Southeastern Conference; Ole Miss, 19-9, 5-9

RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3

COACHES: Arkansas, John Pelphrey (19-9, 1st season; 99-76, 6 seasons); Ole Miss, Andy Kennedy (42-22, 2nd season; 61-35, 3 seasons)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 39-21

LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat Ole Miss 83-66 on Feb. 17, 2007 in Fayetteville



Ratings Percentage Index

Arkansas entered its game Saturday against No. 18 Vanderbilt at No. 44 in the RPI, according to CollegeRPI.com. As of Sunday night, the Razorbacks had risen to No. 39.

The Hogs' next two opponents, Ole Miss and Auburn, are at Nos. 46 and 143, respectively.



WORTH QUOTING

Gary Ervin

On the pressures that come with playing at home:

"It can go both ways. We get a lot from the crowd at home. We feed off their energy and play with more energy. But sometimes your home crowd expects so much out of you, that is can make it nerve wracking to make those plays. You want to try so hard, so you try too hard."

John Pelphrey

On seniors Ervin and Sonny Weems producing down the stretch Saturday:

"It was clutch. That's what seniors need to do. ... This is why you came to school here, why you wanted chance to put the Razorback uniform on."

Kevin Stallings

On Arkansas' talent level compared to his Vanderbilt players:

"They've got a lot of talent. I think if you lined up their talent against our talent, I think most coaches would take their talent."

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