Clarke stars in Red-White hoops

Rotnei Clarke scored 15 points to wow a crowd estimated at 7,000 as the White team squeaked to a 33-29 victory Friday night at Bud Walton Arena.

The Red-White game amounted to one half of basketball, with a one-minute overtime. Only 10 players were suited up and that included new walk-on John Paul Noland. The White team, led by Rotnei Clarke's 15 points, earned a 33-29 triumph when Michael Washington and Marcus Britt combined for a 6-0 run to start the OT period. Washington added 11 points and 8 rebounds for the White.

Clarke made four 3-point shots in the first eight minutes to stake the White team to a 17-7 lead, but the Red squad fought back behind Stefan Welsh, Andre Clark and Montrell McDonneld.

The final few seconds featured some gamemanship by coach John Pelphrey, looking for some last-second situations to drill his players. With the White team up by 2 points, Clarke was fouled with 11.4 seconds to play. Instead of allowing Clarke to shoot the free throws, Pelphrey instead put Noland, the walk-on, on the line. Noland missed the front of the 1-and-1.

"I've never had that before," Clarke laughed about not getting to shoot the possible clinching free throws. "It was alright. I understood what was going on."

Pelphrey admitted, "I promise I'll never do it again, either. What I figured, he'd make 'em both and the game was going to be over and I wanted to see some things at the end, wanted to work on some things."

Told Clarke was just one-of-three from the line for the night, Pelphrey said, "Good, that gives me something to get on him about."

Clarke was tougher on himself than the coach. He reminded reporters that he made four straight threes, then missed three straight. He also didn't like his 33 percent from the line, where he shot 89 percent in high school.

"I lost focus," he said. "I can't let that happen. I'm not happy. One of three? That's ridiculous, horrible."

Pelphrey said there was "good attitude" and effort in the Red-White game. He said it was a pleasing night. He thought it was an improvement over some of their practices during the week when he said there was some good, but some really bad days, too.

"What's the old saying?" he said. "You win some, you lose some and some are rained out. That's how we've been. There has been some good, but there has been just as much bad."

Courtney Fortson and Jason Henry were suspended. Both practiced earlier in the day. Pelphrey said they were suspended because of "coaches decision." He said both can be better student-athletes. He expects both to be at practices Saturday when they will practice twice.

There is something to rumors that surfaced earlier in the day that Marcus Monk could play for the basketball team this year.

Monk finished his football eligibility for the Hogs last season, but still has one season of basketball eligibility left. He signed a pro contract with the Chicago Bears, but has expressed an interest in playing basketball.

There is a hypothetical situation where he could enroll in school and play with the team in January. Pelphrey confirmed that he had talked with Monk about the situation. "I'd like to see it investigated," Pelphrey said. "You'd like to add a high-character guy like Marcus. But right now there are too many variables to know (if it can happen)."

Rotnei Clarke looks to penetrate.

Michael Washington leans in for a reverse layup.

Photos by Marc F. Henning

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