Monk Comes Up Big in Win

FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas wide receiver Marcus Monk has only been part of the Razorbacks basketball team for two weeks, but it certainly didn't look like it Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-6 forward looked much more like a gritty, four-year veteran during the Razorbacks' 96-88 upset win against fourth-ranked Oklahoma.

Monk scored 12 points, added 6 rebounds and played a big hand in frustrating Oklahoma All-American forward Blake Griffin. It was an effort that helped Arkansas shock the Sooners and all but prove Monk will be much more than a novelty on the court.

"Marcus Monk, my goodness," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "There's no words to describe what we saw. One of the best performances I've ever seen. I don't know how many points or rebounds he had, but he got in there and competed. That jersey means something to him."

Monk, who made his first appearance with the Razorbacks in the win against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 20, hadn't played college basketball since his brief stint as a freshman in 2004-05. He joined the team this winter to give college basketball one more shot and has been working his way back into shape. It was noticed Tuesday.

"He's a good player," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "He came in and played his role at a very high level (Tuesday) and gave them a boost."

Monk fought for loose balls under the basket, took turns with the rest of the big men guarding Griffin and knocked down key free throws that helped the Razorbacks hold their lead late.

He even shrugged off some struggles early in the game, when he had two shots blocked.

"I've been playing ball for awhile," Monk said. "Getting a shot blocked is not a big deal."

Monk had combined to score two points and grab two rebounds in 12 minutes during his first two appearances this season. But with forward Jason Henry out with a knee injury, Monk played 20 minutes as part of a four-man post rotation.

Monk said he asked to be taken out of the game once because of fatigue. But he handled the extended minutes pretty well.

"I told him before the game that he's going to be the key to this victory," guard Stefan Welsh said. "He did an excellent job of defending. He did an excellent job of knocking down clutch free throws. He did an excellent job of hitting the boards. He was flawless (Tuesday night)."

Monk cautioned that he's still a work-in-progress when he spoke with the media after the win.

But there's no doubt he passed his first true test with a big performance against the Sooners.

"I've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I'm trying to soak it all in," Monk said.

"I know I can play."

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