Fortson Earns Another Weekly Award

FAYETTEVILLE — This time last week, Arkansas freshman point guard Courtney Fortson received the Southeastern Conference's Player of the Week award. His triple-double performance against North Carolina Central on Dec. 10 earned him that distinction.

Two games later, Fortson already merited another honor. The SEC named Fortson its Freshman of the Week on Monday, rewarding the 5-foot-11 lefty for two dominant efforts as Arkansas won the Jim Thorpe Classic.

Fortson landed on the all-tournament team for his role in victories over Austin Peay and Stephen F. Austin. He had 20 points, seven assists and seven rebounds against the Governors on Wednesday night and 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds against the Lumberjacks on Saturday night.

He now leads the Razorbacks this season in 3-point percentage (.464) and fares even better from inside the arc.

"(Courtney's) worked hard on his perimeter shooting," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said during his Monday news conference in Bud Walton Arena. "He's smart with (the shots) he takes. He doesn't jack up a lot of 3s or jump shots.

"The way he plays and ... tries to get (things) done, his shooting percentage (.510) does not surprise me."

Fortson is averaging 15.7 points per game, making him Arkansas' second-leading scorer behind junior forward Michael Washington (16.1).

His 59 assists rank second in the SEC, short of only Florida sophomore Nick Calathes (71). And his lack of height doesn't prevent him from being 20th in the league in rebounding (5.6).

Only two statistical categories are sources of concern for Pelphrey. Fortson's free throw shooting has worried his coach (30 of 53, 56.6 percent), and his 36 turnovers are higher than Pelphrey would like.

Pelphrey isn't sweating the miscues too much, however.

"When you look at the body of work, you'll take the turnovers," Pelphrey said. "I know he wants to have a great assist-to-turnover ratio, and he will. Some of it is on him, but some of those are borderline. Two people are involved.

"A lot of that comes from not playing together for very long. As much as he's had the ball in his hands, he hasn't turned it over that much."

Fortson has committed at least four turnovers in seven of Arkansas' nine games. But don't expect him to alter his game anytime soon because of those numbers.

"I try not to force things, but I'm always aggressive," Fortson said last week. "That's my game, always has been. That's how I can help this team the most."

Saturday's Ticket

Northwestern State (La.) at Arkansas

When: 5:05 p.m.

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville

TV: ESPN2 (Cox Ch. 24)

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

Records: Northwestern State Demons, 7-4; Arkansas Razorbacks, 8-1

Coaches: Northwestern State, Mike McConathy (11th season); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (2nd season)

Series: Arkansas leads 6-1

Last Meeting: The Razorbacks won 90-59 on Dec. 19, 2007, in Fayetteville

Courtney Fortson Statistics

Opponent Points Rebounds Assists Turnovers Minutes

Southeastern Louisiana 18 5 7 6 37

California-Davis 16 3 2 3 28

at Missouri State 10 6 4 4 31

at South Alabama 25 4 5 4 35

Florida A&M 13 5 5 6 32

Texas Southern 6 5 11 1 28

North Carolina Central 20 10 11 4 31

Austin Peay 20 7 7 4 36

Stephen F. Austin 13 5 7 4 31

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