BASKETBALL: Pelphrey Helps Hogs Boot Auburn

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, whose animated antics have been well-documented this season, accomplished an interesting first on the sideline Saturday night.

He broke a sign along Arkansas' scorer's table.

The first-year coach put his heel through an illuminated Adidas/Arkansas sign that borders the court near the Razorbacks' bench in the first half of their 77-64 win against Auburn. Pelphrey has never been shy about stomping, screaming or, even, hitting the sign on the sideline during games this season, but recorded Saturday's knockout with his foot.

"It was a lucky punch," Pelphrey said with a laugh.

The swift kick came after Arkansas gave up an offensive rebound and committed a foul during a sluggish start. Pelphrey, whose team was leading 13-9, said he thought the Razorbacks needed some kind of spark. He had no intention of providing it with his right foot, though.

In fact, Pelphrey admitted he has slapped the sign on the scorer's table much harder in practice. But Pelphrey said he hit it just right Saturday.

"I probably shouldn't tell all my stories, but, I've hit it harder in practice," Pelphrey said. "It's just like when you kind of flush one in golf. I knew as soon as I hit it — I didn't hit it very hard — I just immediately walked away."

A team manager picked up the shattered pieces of the sign during a break in action. A few minutes later, Bud Walton Arena maintainence workers replaced the sign with a new one. It had a Hog on it, but no Adidas logo.

"I was on the bench smiling," Arkansas guard Gary Ervin said. "I saw the dust coming out. I heard it. It was real loud."

But the message seemed to reached the Razorbacks.

Arkansas outscored Auburn 32-17 the rest of the half to build a comfortable, 19-point edge at the break. Ervin said he's never seen a coach break a sign, but it was further proof of Pelphrey's competitiveness.

There was no word on how much the broken sign cost, but Pelphrey didn't touch the new one. Auburn coach Jeff Lebo — who didn't see the broken sign — joked that Pelphrey should be held accountable.

"Make sure he pays for it," Lebo said.

Weems Struggles Again

Make that two in a row for forward Sonny Weems.

Arkansas' leading scorer (15.2 points) struggled for the second straight game. Weems scored 7 points and went 3-for-12 against the Tigers. He scored 5 points on 2-for-11 shooting at Ole Miss last Tuesday.

Weems is averaging 6 points and shooting 21.7 percent during the two-game stretch, but Ervin believes his teammate will bounce back.

"It could've been emotions in the air. It could've been a lot of things," Ervin said. "But at the same time he's going to get in practice and do some of the things he's been doing to make him our go-to guy."

Take Two

Arkansas center Darian Townes' first performance against Auburn was forgettable. He scored 4 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in 20 minutes.

But Townes made the most of his second chance, getting 12 points and 14 rebounds against the undersized Tigers on Saturday.

It was Townes' first double-double this season and his best work on the boards since his freshman season, when he grabbed 12 against Alabama.

"I just wanted to be the physical player in there," Townes said. "I just wanted to give my all going in for rebounds and throwing my body around."

Rematch Looming?

There's a chance the two teams can meet again in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Auburn, which finished last in the SEC West, will play SEC East No. 3 seed Vanderbilt in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. The winner will play the Razorbacks on Friday at 3:15.

Arkansas is a combined 3-0 against both teams. The Razorbacks beat Vanderbilt 78-73 in Fayetteville on March 1. They picked up wins against the Tigers on Saturday and at Auburn (76-70) on Jan. 10.

Tip Ins

Arkansas reached 20-win season for the third straight season. The last time that happened was 1994, 1995 and 1996. ... Pelphrey earned his 100th coaching win Saturday. Pelphrey improved to 100-77 in six seasons at South Alabama and Arkansas. ... Ervin and Auburn's DeWayne Reed were assessed technical fouls in the second half.

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