"We just couldn't wait much longer," Pelphrey said. "We wanted to go at them from the inside."
Washington didn't waste any time, scoring the Razorbacks' next seven points to fuel their 96-88 upset victory in Bud Walton Arena.
He compiled team-highs of 24 points and 11 rebounds along the way, posting his sixth double-double this season and giving Arkansas (10-1) production it hasn't seen for 10 seasons. No Razorback has recorded more than six double-doubles in a season since Derek Hood's school-record 18 in 1999.
"I've been talking about Mike all year, so this is no surprise to me," Arkansas freshman point guard Courtney Fortson said. "I think he's one of the best big men in the country because he just went up against the best big man in the country and held his own. That says it all."
As Fortson said, Washington hung with OU sophomore forward Blake Griffin, an All-American candidate who could be taken first in the 2009 NBA Draft. Griffin finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
The fact Washington kept up with Griffin didn't surprise junior guard Stefan Welsh. After all, he already has seen Washington thrive against NBA talent.
"Mike's been doing that since he got here," Welsh said. "His freshman year at the SEC Tournament he took the ball right at (Florida's) Joakim Noah and Al Horford. Last year (at Oklahoma), he had a double-double against Blake Griffin.
"So going into the game, I didn't worry about him."
Early on Tuesday night, Washington constantly filled up the stat sheet, scoring 17 points and eight rebounds before halftime. His putback of a Fortson miss and three-point play gave UA a 6-3 lead, and his putback put the Hogs up 11-5.
Fortson and sophomore Marcus Britt set Washington up for back-to-back dunks that capped the 12-0 run that increased Arkansas' lead to 25-8. Capel pointed out how skilled Washington has become at finding open space when Fortson drives into the lane.
"He's a great offensive rebounder, and when he's able to catch the ball in the sweet spots in the post, he can be a very effective scorer," OU coach Jeff Capel said. "Our inability to guard penetration (hurt us). In the first half, a lot of his buckets came on offensive rebounds and on dropoffs from the guards."
He missed only one shot in 19 minutes in the first half — an ill-advised 19-footer. The second half brought his third and fourth fouls, but he picked right back up when he entered the contest at the 5:03 mark.
Those seven crucial consecutive points came on a dunk from Fortson, a free throw off an offensive rebound, an 8-footer over Griffin and a layup from Fortson.
"He showed (Tuesday) that he can compete with anybody," freshman guard Rotnei Clarke said.
North Texas vs. Arkansas
When: 2:05 p.m.
Where: Alltel Arena, North Little Rock
TV: KFTA (Cox Ch. 8)
Radio: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-AM 1290, FM 105.3
Records: North Texas Mean Green, 8-4; Arkansas Razorbacks, 10-1
Coaches: North Texas, Johnny Jones (eighth season); Arkansas, John Pelphrey (second season)
Series: Arkansas leads 12-0
Note: Arkansas' ratings percentage index shot up Wednesday to No. 59, according to CollegeRPI.com. The Hogs were as low as No. 166 as recent as Dec. 10 after defeating North Carolina Central.
Michael Washington Double-Doubles
Opponent Points Rebounds
Southeastern Louisiana 30 14
Florida A&M 20 10
North Carolina Central 20 12
Austin Peay 24 14
Stephen F. Austin 17 13
No. 4 Oklahoma 24 11