Clarke Gets Over Nerves

FAYETTEVILLE — The night before Rotnei Clarke's first game in an Arkansas uniform was restless.

"I was nervous," Clarke said after Arkansas' 103-58 exhibition win over NAIA Campbellsville on Monday night. "I could barely sleep (Sunday) night. This is a completely different thing for me to come out on the collegiate level. Once it got started, I calmed down a little bit.

"I had some butterflies before the game, but I got over them."

Clarke's anxiousness didn't hurt his production in any way. The 6-foot guard from Claremore, Okla., scored 17 points in a game-high 30 minutes Monday night.

He had 11 points in the first half on 3-of-4 shooting, including two 3-pointers. Clarke finished with four 3-pointers and also spent considerable time at point guard with projected starter Courtney Fortson out because of a suspension.

One highlight had nothing to do with outside shooting. Clarke gave Arkansas a 34-14 lead when he rebounded a missed shot, dribbled behind his back to evade a defender and nailed a 6-foot floater.

"He's more than just a shooter," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said.

Three-Guard Lineup

In the backcourt, Pelphrey started Clarke, junior Stefan Welsh and sophomore Marcus Britt. Junior Montrell McDonald and freshman Jason Henry, who are both 6-foot-6, figure to log more of the minutes at the "3" spot as the season progresses.

But Pelphrey didn't hesitate to use Britt, a 6-3 sophomore, in that role on Monday night.

"We wanted to go with our most experienced guys," Pelphrey said. "They have the best understanding of what we're trying to do."

Britt, who briefly left the game because of a cramp in his left leg but returned soon after, posted six assists and zero turnovers in 22 minutes.

"Marcus knows every guard spot well," Clarke said. "He did a great job stepping in at the 3. We fit well together back there tonight."

Constant Pressure

Arkansas pressed after most made shots and free throws, alternating between full-court and half-court defenses. And while Pelphrey admitted the Razorbacks had many defensive strides still to make, Arkansas succeeded in pressuring Campbellsville into 21 turnovers.

Two of those miscues came on 10-second violations when the Tigers couldn't cross half-court.

"That's our team makeup," Welsh said. "We don't have the luxury of having a Steven Hill this year, of having a 7-footer who can block shots. So we have to get out there and cause havoc. I thought the young guys went out there and did a great job of understanding the concepts.

"It's still a work in progress, though."


• Freshman forward Andre Clark induced two of the night's loudest reactions within 20 seconds early in the second half. He follwed up an offensive foul on a vicious missed missed dunk and a blocked shot into the fourth row behind the basket.

• Junior guard Stephen Cox ensured every Arkansas player scored with his 12-foot turnaround jumper with 3:30 left. He added a 3-point play with 1:25 left to put the Hogs over the 100-point mark.

• Arkansas outrebounded the Tigers 43-32 but gave up 17 offensive rebounds. Pelphrey had this to say about the Hogs' inconsistency on the glass: "At times, we rebounded the ball like a high school team."

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