Arkansas 108, Dillard 80

Courtney Fortson makes his debut with 11 points and 10 assists and fellow freshmen guard Rotnei Clarke (20 points) and junior Michael Washington (19 points, 10 rebounds) lead five players in double figures as Arkansas routs Dillard 108-80 Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.

The unveiling of University of Arkansas point guard Courtney Fortson was quite the success on Thursday night.

Fortson recorded a double-double with 11 points and a whopping 10 assists as the Razorbacks ripped through Dillard 108-80 in exhibition action before 7,100 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Rotnei Clarke had 20 points, Michael Washington 19 points and 10 rebounds, Jason Henry 14 points and Andre Clark 12 as Arkansas rolled to it second rout this week of NAIA foes in a pair of exhibition games.

"I really enjoyed the pace of the game tonight," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. We pushed the floor a lot and were really up-tempo for most of the game. But we really need to get to where we can play that fast and defend at the same time."

Pelphrey was indeed upset with how his team played defense as Dillard pumped in 14 3-pointers and how it allowed the Blue Devils to get 15 offensive rebounds.

"I would say overall I wasn't that impressed with our play," Pelphrey said. "We are a long, long way from competing for a win in the regular season. We have got a lot of work to do and we are very, very fortunate that we have time...The rebounding was suspect and I didn't think our enthusiam and passion were very high."

The Razorbacks have a full week to get ready for the season opener next Friday with visiting Southeastern Louisiana.

Fortson, who Pelphrey had held out of the Red-White game and Monday's 103-58 pummeling of Campbellsville, had nine of those assists by the break.

"It was great to finally get on the floor," Fortson said. "We're all ready for the regular season. Exhibitions are fun, but they're behind us and we need to keep getting better."

Pelphrey certainly liked what he saw from Fortson, who had the 10 assists to only 2 turnovers.

"Courtney was fantastic in the first half with those nine assists," Pelphrey said. "We've got a lot of guys who love to play with him for a reason."

Clarke netted 14 points and had knocked down 4 of his 5 3-pointers and fellow true freshmen Henry 10 of his by halftime as the Razorbacks had raced out to a 61-42 lead.

"Tonight was a lot of fun," Clarke said. "It was good to get Courtney back out on the floor and show the fans a little bit iof what we can do. It was great to finally just come together as a team." That included their third straight half of over 50 percent shooting from the field and 8 of their 9 3-pointers before intermission – half of those by Clarke.

Arkansas also had its second straight game of at least 60 percent shooting in the second half and shot 56.5 percent for the game.

Dillard, coached by former Kentucky star and Pelphrey teammate Dale Brown, shot just 39.7 percent from the field overall and committed 22 turnovers, but also did some good things from a competiting standpoint per their coach.

"I was proud of our play tonight," Brown said. "Arkansas plays with a lot of pressure. It's a similiar style to how we play.

"It's a dream come true to be able to coach against one of my former teammates," Brown added. "Coach Pelphrey's been in the coaching ranks coming up and I'm glad to be able to get some exposure from playing a team like Arkansas."

Mike Bridges and Kenyon Harper each had 14 points and 6 rebounds to lead the way for Dillard, which is located in New Orleans.

"With the effects of Hurricane Katrina, our enrollment at Dillard has gone down and it's nice to get some exposure in order to get our enrollment back up."

The 6-10, 235-pound Washington was the bellcow for the Razorbacks in the second half with 13 of his 19 points and 8 of his 10 rebounds coming after intermission.

"Mike's our rock," Pelphrey said. "He got in foul trouble early so we had to kind of to work around that. He keeps producing and keeps doing what we expect of him...I like the place he is in right now."

That lead grew to 70-44 early in the second half when Washington scored inside with 18:06 left in the game.

Fortson's two free throws gave the Razorbacks their largest lead of the night to that point at 96-62 with 7:44 remaining.

The only suspense left by the time was whether Bridges, who had fouled out earlier and was one of three visitors to foul out, would sit down.

After having his steps counted to the bench for him by Arkansas students, Bridges would not give them the satisfaction of saying sit down as he did that.

Instead he never did and was still standing as Montrell McDonald's slam off a Fortson assist surged the Razorbacks to the century mark and a 100-65 lead with 5:28 left in the contest.

Arkansas will open its regular season next Friday when it hosts Southeastern Louisiana.

"The (exhibition play) was fun, but I think we are all ready for the regular season to get here," Henry said. "This up tempo is going to be fun with the guys we have here. I've played this type of basketball for a while and a I love it."





Michael Washington





Rotnei Clarke





Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey





Brandon Moore









Michael Sanchez and Courtney Fortson attack on defense in a pair of photos.





Stefan Welsh


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