After the University of Arkansas' upset win over No. 4 Oklahoma on Tuesday night, senior forward Marcus Monk and freshman point guard Courtney Fortson congratulated one another.
It easy to see that the former star Razorback football wideout is very pleased with the basketball team's new quarterback.
Fortson scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 10 assists – 3 of them to Monk, who had a career-high 12 points and 6 boards in 20 minutes in just his third game this season.
"Monk still doesn't have his legs," Fortson said. "He will get better, but he's already given us a lot – leadership, scoring, rebounding – and really helping us.
"He slipped the screen and was open behind them," Fortson added. "He knows how to play."
The career touchdown reception leader in Arkansas history – and this team's lone senior - knows he has to be ready when Fortson has the ball.
"I know to keep my eyes open," said Monk, who was 6-of-6 from the free throw line. "The ball will come to you. I was ready."
Monk – a seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears - was also ready for the challenge of defending Oklahoma superstar Blake Griffin, a preseason All-American.
He helped stymie Griffin – who still ended the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds, but also fouled out and was kept off-balance at times by Monk.
"Our plan was to go right at Blake Griffin," Monk said. "We wanted to attack him on offense and double team him on defense before he took a dribble.
"He's a pro," Monk added. "A big, huge guy. I just tried as hard as I can to guard him."
Griffin blocked three shots, a pair of them that Monk put up.
"On offense he blocked some of my shots, but I have played a lot of basketball so that's happened before," Monk said. "It's not that big a deal."
With Michael Washington scoring 24 points to lead the way, Arkansas outscored Oklahoma 46-32 in the paint.
"Our big guys finished," Fortson said. "They tried to double me and that left some guys open."
Arkansas junior guard Stefan Welsh, who had 19 points, had a prediction for Monk before the game started.
"I told him before the game that he's going to be the key to this victory," 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."
Welsh also talked about the plan to attack Griffin.
"We wanted to make a conscious effort that every time he takes a dribble, we wanted to dig," Welsh said. "We wanted to make all his shots tough. We wanted to make him see a whole lot of hands."
Griffin said it wasn't necessarily about Arkansas' defense on Tuesday night as it was about Oklahoma's.
"Tonight wasn't about our offense, it was our defense," Griffin said. "We couldn't defend the ball screens and stop Fortson.
"They did a good job of finishing inside," Griffin added. "Fortson got in the lane and got it to their big men."
Marcus Monk slams home two of his 12 points on Tuesday night.
A New Connection
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Arkansas On Game Days | Tailgate TravelsAs much fun as it is being at an Arkansas football game, the pregame can be just as enjoyable, especially if you have an RV. Head out to Fayetteville to see what makes the…
Scout 2017 Rankings DirectoryThe Scout positional, state, regional, national and team rankings for the Class of 2017...
Scout FootballMonday at 7:00 AM
Bowl Game Matchups: Who's Going Where?Here's a look at the postseason lineup for 2016.
ScoutSunday at 11:12 AM
Missouri-Arkansas By The NumbersMissouri (3-8, 1-6) hosts Arkansas (7-4, 3-4) in a Southeastern Conference contest on Friday afternoon.
Black & Gold Illustrated11/21/2016