Washington Grits Through Pain

MOBILE, Ala. — His back cramped up so badly, he had to retreat to the Arkansas locker room twice during Wednesday's first half at South Alabama. But junior forward Michael Washington fought through the pain, endearing himself to Arkansas coach John Pelphrey.

Washington, a 6-foot-9 native of McGehee, finished with eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds in Arkansas' 79-77 victory at the Mitchell Center.

"Michael Washington was unbelievable," Pelphrey said. "He never could get (his back) loose. I am so proud of his effort. It was one of the most courageous efforts I have seen because he was playing at about 30 or 40 percent. He hung in there and made some plays."

Washington's back began giving him trouble in Arkansas' season-opening victory against Southeastern Louisiana. His health had steadily improved recently, but Pelphrey said Washington's back "locked up on him pretty bad" earlier in the day Wednesday.

Throughout the contest, it was easy to see the back spasms bothered Washington. He simply couldn't play with his usual hustle and strength. Still, he managed to provide the Razorbacks with 36 valuable minutes.

He never left the floor after halftime and saved his most important rebound for last, grabbing a missed free throw by freshman forward Michael Sanchez with two seconds left.

Clark Contributes

Sanchez got into foul trouble often Wednesday night, picking up two fouls in each half. Sanchez, who finished with four points and two rebounds, played nine minutes in the first half and 11 in the second half.

His absence didn't necessarily hurt the Razorbacks, though, because of the play of freshman forward Andre Clark. The 6-foot-9 native of Little Rock played nine minutes in the second half, fed Washington with a few nice passes and finished with two points and four rebounds.

Career Highs

Junior guard Stefan Welsh established plenty of career highs on Wednesday night.

Welsh posted career bests in scoring (24), shots made (10) and attempted (24), 3-pointers taken, rebounds (9) and minutes played (38). He matched his career high with his four 3s.

Freshman point guard Courtney Fortson, who was named the most valuable player of the Coors Classic (the sponsor name for Wednesday's game), scored a career-high 25 points.

At The Line

For 20 minutes, it looked like the same old Razorbacks at the free throw line. Arkansas entered Wednesday's contest having struggled mightily on free throws thus far this season.

That trend continued in the first half when the Hogs connected on only two of their seven free throw attempts. They turned it around in the second half, however, draining nine of their 11 tries.

Washington was the best from the line by making 4 of 5.


• Freshman guard Rotnei Clarke finished with 12 points, but he had only three after halftime. His one second-half field goal was important to the final outcome. His 3-pointer cut the Jaguars lead to 77-76 with 47.1 seconds left.

• Arkansas was 12 of 22 from 3-point range, the first time the Hogs nailed a dozen 3s since doing so against Ole Miss on Feb. 17, 2007.

• Pelphrey said Arkansas would practice three times before playing again — once on Thanksgiving and twice today.

• The Razorbacks play next at 2:05 p.m on Saturday in Bud Walton Arena against Florida A&M.

Saturday's Ticket

Florida A&M at Arkansas

When: 2:05 p.m.

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville

Radio: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-FM 105.3, KUOA-AM 1290

Records: Florida A&M Rattlers, 1-5; Arkansas Razorbacks, 3-1

Coaches: Florida A&M, Eugene Harris (second season; Arkansas, John Pelphrey (second season)

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