Clarke Paces Red To Overtime Win

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach John Pelphrey crossed paths with freshman guard Rotnei Clarke moments before the 3-point contest that preceded Friday night's Red-White game in Bud Walton Arena.

Pelphrey took one look at Clarke and froze.

"Oh, he was keyed up now," Pelphrey said. "I said, ‘Rot, you OK, man?' He was pacing around with this look in his eyes. I could tell this guy was amped up a little bit.

"I think being on edge like that is not a bad thing. He uses it to his advantage."

Clarke surely benefitted from that focus Friday night.

The 6-foot native of Claremore, Okla., scored a game-high 15 points in the glorified scrimmage held in front of about 5,000 fans. All but three of those points came on four consecutive 3-pointers early in the first half, and his White team went on to secure a 33-29 overtime victory.

Junior guard Stefan Welsh said he felt vindicated by Clarke's shooting effort, which included three straight misses from 3-point range after his four straight makes.

"That's what he does," Welsh said. "We told you before he's one of the best shooters in the country. I'm glad ya'll got to see it finally."

Arkansas fans didn't get to see the full Razorbacks roster, however. They saw a new addition to the team — senior walk-on John Paul Noland. But freshmen Courtney Fortson and Jason Henry weren't in the building Friday night, serving a suspension that Pelphrey declined to elaborate much about.

Pelphrey said Fortson and Henry practiced earlier Friday and would practice today.

"Both of those young men are good young men," Pelphrey said. "I was just reminding them of what's important."

Without those two players, the Razorbacks were understandably sloppy at times and looked fatigued by the end of the 20 minutes of regulation play.

Clarke even misfired on two of his three free-throw attempts.

"That was ridiculous," Clarke said as he fought back a smile. "I don't even want to talk about that. That's horrible."

While the Hogs didn't get too involved in running their offensive sets, they got a valuable opportunity to simulate an important late-game situation. Junior Montrell McDonald, who led the Red team with 10 points, scored on a putback with 1.5 seconds left to tie the game at 26.

The coaches then called three timeouts before a half-court shot failed. Sophomore guard Marcus Britt was the star of the overtime session, recording a steal and an assist and making all four of his free throws. Welsh said he was happy with contest was tight.

"In this league, the win margin is very, very, very small," Welsh said. "So any time you can work on late-game situation stuff and get guys that experience, it's always good."

Afterward, Pelphrey seemed eager to return to practice, having not learned nearly enough from Friday night's game.

"I'm never going to get as much as I want from something like this," Pelphrey said.



SCORING

WHITE (33) — Rotnei Clarke 15, Michael Washington 11, Marcus Britt 4, Brandon Moore 2, John Paul Noland 1.

RED (29) — Montrell McDonald 10, Stefan Welsh 8, Andre Clark 7, Stephen Cox 2, Michael Sanchez 2.

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