Arkansas 81, Vandy 75

Darian Townes and Gary Ervin both pour in 18 points to lead five Razorbacks in double figures as Arkansas downs Vanderbilt 81-75 Friday afternoon in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals and advances to meet Tennessee in a 5 p.m. semifinal game on Saturday at Georgia Tech.

ATLANTA – Because the University of Arkansas clearly has Vanderbilt's number, the so-called bracketologists can now quit using the term bubble when talking about the Razorbacks and the NCAA Tournament.

Darian Townes and Gary Ervin both notched season-highs with 18 points to lead five players in double figures as Arkansas downed No. 18 Vanderbilt 81-75 Friday afternoon in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

Charles Thomas added 13 and Patrick Beverley and Stefan Welsh 11 each as the Razorbacks (21-10) beat the Commodores (26-7) for the fifth straight time and sixth time in seven meetings.

"I'm proud of our guys," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Outside of fouling way too much in the first half, I thought we played pretty good basketball and it was team basketball.

"We were able to take care of it, keep our turnovers down, had five guys in double figures and when certain guys had to go off the floor, other guys stepped up," Pelphrey added.

The win not only solidifies the UA's big dance credentials, but sends it into a 5 p.m.semifinal game on Saturday against No. 4 Tennessee.

The game was moved to Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum after a tornado messed up the Georgia Dome and postponed the last game between Kentucky and Georgia.

Georgia and Kentucky will now play at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Arkansas-Tennessee at 5 p.m. and then Mississippi State and the Kentucky-Georgia winer playing at 7:30 p.m.

The championship game has now been moved to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Arkansas outscored Vanderbilt 50-20 in the paint and won the board battle 45-23 with 22 offensive rebounds to its foe's 6.

"You know we have had a tough time at times this year, especially on the road, at being tough when we needed to be tough," Pelphrey said. "Tonight I thought we were. Loose balls, we got some offensive rebounds, converted some shots when we needed to convert them."

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings, who watched Arkansas put up six shots on one trip and get five rebounds, concurred.

"Well, we just got beaten badly on the boards and we gave them too many second opportunities and third opportunities and fourth opportunities," Stallings said. "So that was the difference in the game. They just pounded us on the boards, which is disappointing and our offense isn't good enough to recover or cover for – when the get more of their misses than we do."

The Razorbacks won despite leading scorer Sonny Weems going just 1-of-9 from the field and having 3 points while Beverley – who got his jaw jacked again -0 was just 3-of-11.

"When you look at this thing and Sonny just had 3 points, that's big," Pelphrey said. "That's big for the other guys to step in and be able to concentrate, understand what is going on and make the right plays over and over."

Townes had 13 of his points and Welsh all 11 of his in the first half to set the tone.

Alex Gordon had 22 points to lead Vanderbilt – which had only one lead at 5-4 in the game - while A.J. Ogilvy and SEC MVP Shan Foster had just 14 each.

Ogilvy and Foster had combined for 53 in their team's 93-82 win over Auburn in the opening round.

"Both of these guys are very well coached, but they just do a great job of getting touches," Pelphrey said. "And Vanderbilt moves the ball with such precision inside and its just hard…We just wanted somebody else to shoot the ball from Vanderbilt besides Foster and Ogilvy."

Arkansas took a 40-36 lead into intermission with Vanderbilt keeping it close and trading baskets with the Razorbacks on many occasions.

The Commodores tied it twice after then, including on Gordon's 3-pointer that deadlocked it 58-58 with 9:23 remaining in the game.

Arkansas quickly regained the lead on five straight points by Ervin, whose 3-pointer got the Razorbacks up 63-58 at the 7:16 mark.

Ervin was 5-of-7 during a game in which Arkansas shot 46 percent from the field overall as did Vanderbilt, who had shot 75 percent on Thursday.

"They seemed to play with a confidence against us that you don't see when they play other teams," Stallings said. "So maybe the basket looks bigger when they play us."

Arkansas took a 40-36 lead into intermission with Vanderbilt keeping it close and trading baskets with the Razorbacks on many occasions.

The Commodores tied it twice after then, including on Gordon's 3-pointer that deadlocked it 58-58 with 9:23 remaining in the game.

Arkansas quickly regained the lead on five straight points by Ervin, whose 3-pointer got the Razorbacks up 63-58 at the 7:16 mark.

After Arkansas twice had chances to build its lead to 7, Vanderbilt cut it to 65-63 on Gordon's 3-pointer with 3:41 left.

Two free throws by both Ervin and Beverley pushed the Razorbacks up by five and then Thomas' rebound lay got them ahead 71-64 with 1:11 left in the game.

Arkansas hit 11 straight free throws at one point.

"Down the stretch we really executed our press offense every single time and made out free throws," Pelphrey said.

Pelphrey said that Weems and a mumbling Beverley were stepping up in the huddle late in the game despite not struggling offensively.

"Pat is over there mumbling something and I have no idea what he was mumbling, but he was mumbling and won't come out of the game," Pelphrey said while laughing.

Arkansas now gets a shot at Tennessee, a team that buried the Razorbacks 93-71 in Knoxville on Feb. 13.

JeJuan Smith had 32 points in that game.

"I think Tennessee is awesome," Pelphrey said. "We'd like to go at JeJuan Smith a little better. He was spectacular. They've got two players at every spot."

Pelphrey kept his stance of not talking about his team being in the NCAA Tournament.

"I am going to give you the same old coach speak," Pelphrey said. "I don't have a crystal ball. I would be doing my team a disservice if I focus on anything other than trying to get them prepared for the next game."





Stefan Welsh scores two of his 11 points in the first half of his team's win over Vanderbilt on Friday afternoon.





Sonny Weems struggled offensively, but had six rebounds and held Vanderbilt's Shan Foster in check.





Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey exhorts his team on during its win over Vanderbilt.





Patrick Beverley skies for a rebound.





Vincent Hunter drives on Keegan Bell.



Beverley shoots in front of Vanderbilt's Ross Neltner.





Hunter encourages Weems and Beverley, who were just 4-of-20 from the field during the contest.





Gary Ervin and Charles Thomas pressure Vanderbilt star Shan Foster.





John Pelphrey slaps five with a Razorback fan after the win.


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