Arkansas 96, No. 4 Oklahoma 88

Michael Washington's 24 points and 11 rebounds leads six Arkansas players in double figures as the underdog Razorbacks knock off No. 4 and previously unbeaten Oklahoma 96-88 Tuesday night before 19,604 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Just call it December Madness and a return to when Giants were slain in Bud Walton Arena.

Michael Washington had 24 points and 11 rebounds and Stefan Welsh 19 points as the underdog Razorbacks won their eight straight by knocking off No. 4 and previously unbeaten Oklahoma 96-88 Tuesday night before a season-high 19, 604 boisterous fans.

Those two were part of six Arkansas players in double figures with Rotnei Clarke adding 15 and Courtney Fortson, Michael Sanchez and reserve Marcus Monk all adding 12 points each.

"I feel very fortunate and humbled to play this game and be a Razorback," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "This was awesome environment tonight. Oklahoma is an unbelievable team. To compete with them we needed performances from guys we haven't seen this season and tonight we did."

Fortson also had 10 assists and 8 rebounds – just missing his second triple-double of the season as Arkansas (10-1) put a glittering win on its resume that could come in handy when the real Madness rolls around in March.

"Courtney Fortson was magnificent," Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel said. "There is no question who the leader of their team is. It speaks volumes for a freshmen. He was tremendous."

Pelphrey certainly agreed with that assessment.

"He is the straw that stirs the drink," Pelphrey said. "He makes everyone's life better. He has a great attitude and he is very coachable."

Pelphrey also couldn't have been more proud of Monk, the former UA football star who was playing in just his third game this season since joining the team.

"The craziest thing is that if you are a good human being and you do the right thing - my goodness," Pelphrey said. "No words can describe. This is the best performance I've ever seen. That jersey means something to him."

Willie Warren had a game-high 35 points, preseason All-American Blake Griffin 21 points and 13 rebounds and Tony Crocker 18 points for previously unbeaten Oklahoma (12-1).

Oklahoma - a heavy favorite - got down by 25 before cutting it to 4 points on two occasions before the youthful Arkansas squad - starting three freshmen held on at the end.

"Everything was about the defense for us tonight," Capel said. " We shot too many threes (33) and at times I thought we settled for threes.

"...This team (Arkansas is well-coached and it shows that youth doesn't matter, talent does,' Capel added. "John has done a good job getting them to play hard and win. I wish them luck in the SEC. I don't know if we were tired or what, but we had some lapeses and they made us pay for it."

The Razorbacks shot 51.7 percent from the line, knocked down 30-of-43 free throws in the win and surprisingly outrebounded the Sooners 45-33.

Arkansas amazingly went up 72-47 when Clarke hit a 3-pointer with 11:49 left before Oklahoma showed why it is ranked so high.

Crocker then got red-hot – hitting 4 3-pointers in a quick 16-0 run in under 3 minutes with the last one cutting it to 72-63 with 9:06 left.

The Razorbacks responded getting the lead back up to 13, but Oklahoma had one last spree in them.

The Sooners twice cut the lead to four points, the last time when Warren hit a pair of free throws that cut it to 83-79 with 4:25 left.

Arkansas shot a blistering 63.3 percent (19-of-30) from the field in the first half with Fortson – ironically 0-for-5 himself – setting his teammates up for great shots and pushing.

Washington was 7-of-8, Welsh 5-of-7 (with a trio of 3-pointers), Sanchez 4-of-5 and Clarke hitting both of his 3-point attempts.

"Our team really responded to the crowd and the challenge to start the game," Pelphrey said. "The crowd was just as ready to play as our team was."

The Razorbacks roared from a 9-5 lead to 25-8 advantage with 13:15 left in the half when Washington got back-to-back dunks.

Griffin had not scored to that point and did not until two free throws with 8:54 showing before intermission.

"We knew how good Blake Giffin is and we did a good job on him tonight," Pelphrey said. "Across the board we got great play."

Welsh's drive boosted it to 37-17 at the 7:54 mark and that forced Capel to take a timeout even before the media one that was coming at the next dead ball.

The Sooners righted the ship a bit - soon scoring 11 unanswered points that cut it to 41-31 on Griffin's slam.

But the Razorbacks responded in kind with seven points of their own, going up 48-31 when Monk cashed in two free throws with 3:01 left in the half.

Washington's slam with 9.2 seconds left sent Arkansas to the locker room with a 53-38 lead at the break.

That led to the dramatics in the second half.

"I want to congratulate Arkansas," noted Capel. "The crowd was fantastic and they had a great start. They could get anything they wanted from us tonight."

Arkansas returns to action on Saturday when it faces North Texas in a 2:05 p.m. game at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.

"This is only one game and it goes away at midnight," Pelphrey said, "but today we are very happy."



Courtney Fortson celebrates as Oklahoma's Blake Griffin walks away after picking up his fifth foul.


Hawgs Daily Top Stories