BASKETBALL: Beverley Steals Show, Scores Seas

FAYETTEVILLE — His confidence bruised, his picture-perfect shot on the fritz, Patrick Beverley looked to his mother for some advice after Arkansas' loss Feb. 27 at Alabama.

"You get out what you put in," Lisa Beverley told her son. Toss in a "you need to play better" comment from Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, and the sophomore guard knew exactly what he needed to do. He rededicated himself to shooting, dragging his girlfriend along to rebound for daily, hourlong sessions.

His shot has returned to form almost immediately, culminating in a season-high scoring effort Saturday during the Razorbacks' 77-64 victory over Auburn. Beverley's 27-point outburst on Arkansas' Senior Day fueled the Hogs to their 20th win this season, a victory that may have sewn up an NCAA Tournament berth.

"I've just been putting in the work late at night," Beverley said. "It's just been a confidence issue. I think there was a point in time where the coaches had more confidence in me than I had in myself."

That wasn't so long ago. Arkansas' loss at Alabama marked the third straight game Beverley had failed to score in double figures, and the Chicago native was visibly playing tentatively with the basketball. He looked nothing like the aggressive slasher and sharp-shooter who averaged 37.3 points as a senior at Marshall High.

So, finally, Pelphrey stepped in, briefly trying to soothe any concerns Beverley had.

"Just keep going out there and shooting it," Pelphrey told him.

To do that, Beverley figured he needed the extra shooting, and ever since, he has excelled. He scored 17 points in Arkansas' win over Vanderbilt. He tallied 19 on Tuesday night at Ole Miss. And he exploded Saturday for his highest point total since posting 29 in his first game as a Razorback.

He drilled nine of his 11 shots Saturday, including all six of his 3-point attempts, but it was a hustle play that really jump-started the Razorbacks. Arkansas led just 13-9 when Pelphrey broke a sign along the scorer's table with a hard right heel-kick, upset with the Hogs' overall intensity.

In fact, Pelphrey said the Hogs "needed a fight to break out, needed a hard foul, needed something" to snap out of their funk. Beverley provided the spark. After nailing the first of his 3s to give Arkansas a 16-11 lead, Beverley stole the inbounds pass and found Charles Thomas for a layup.

Suddenly, the crowd was energized and the Hogs (20-10, 9-7) were on their way to a game-deciding 32-12 spurt.

"That just shows you what he means to us," Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin said. "You know, it's great that he was hitting shots. We knew that would come. But he's made himself a lot better player this season, and he's getting rebounds and assists and steals to help us win."

Beverley did finish with eight rebounds and four steals. But he overshadowed the final game in Fayetteville for Arkansas' six seniors because of his perfect performance beyond the arc. His second 3 put Arkansas up 26-16, his third gave the Hogs a 36-20 lead and his fourth had the Razorbacks ahead 41-23.

His fifth started Arkansas' scoring in the second half, but his final 3 may have been the most important. Auburn (14-15, 4-12) had closed to within 64-54 when Ervin flung a pass to Beverley, who touched all net with a 21-footer.

Arkansas' last points came on Beverley's one-handed breakaway dunk in the last minute. A few moments later, after the final buzzer sounded, Beverley walked around and hugged each of the seniors — "it was really emotional," he said.

Those were the guys who have stuck by him this season, Beverley said, who encouraged him to keep showing up night after night recently for extra practice. Without their support, without their faith in him, Beverley said, he may not have put in the work.

Now, he's obviously thrilled that he did.

"When I'm out on the court now, I understand in the back of my mind that I've hit that shot a million times before," Beverley said.

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