Fortson's Back

Arkansas point guard Courtney Fortson, the likely SEC freshmen of the year who was suspended for one game, is scheduled to return to action Wednesday night when the Razorbacks (13-9, 1-9) host SEC front-runner LSU (21-4, 9-1) in a non-televised game.

The University of Arkansas will have its highly-regarded freshmen point guard back for Wednesday night's home game with SEC front-runner LSU.

Razorback head coach John Pelphrey announced Monday afternoon that Courtney Fortson had been taken off suspension and should start for the Razorbacks (13-10, 1-9) against the No. 23 Tigers (21-4, 9-1).

Fortson, who is averaging 14.6 points and an SEC-leading 6.5 assists per game, missed Saturday's 79-63 loss to visiting Kentucky, but returned to practice on Monday.

"We want him to be a great player for us and we need him to be a great player for us," Pelphrey said. "The better he is, the better he makes his teammates and makes our team better.

"I love Courtney Fortson," Pelphrey added later. "There is not another guard in the country I want leading our program at the point guard spot. Everything that he has we like. Like I said before, if my kids screw up, I don't get rid of them. They are mine. That is not where we are with him.

"I anticipate him being back in the starting lineup," Pelphrey added. "If he is in our lineup, it means the guy who is first or second on our team in every category will be back."

Fortson was indefinitely suspended after Pelphrey basically alluded to the fact he needed to have a better attitude.

"I fully anticipate him coming and having a phenomenal attitude," Pelphrey said. "Courtney has been great 90 percent of the time. That is no different than the rest of them. I could make the same case about all of them."

Pelphrey made it clear that fact that Fortson was his team's leader at point guard makes his attitude even more important.

"Certainly sometimes with whom much is being given, much is being expected to," Pelphrey added. "Needless to say we treat all these guys fairly, but we don't treat them all the same.

"I don't do that with my children," Pelphrey continued. "I don't treat my daughter the same as my son. I love them both dearly."

Fortson certainly adds an element to the team that doesn't exist without him.

"If somebody gets into Courtney's face," Pelphrey notes, " he is very easily into the lane and there are four or five lay-ups whether he gets them or somebody else and he gets us some easy opportunities on the perimeter."

LSU is coming off a season in which it went 13-18 last year, but return four starters and 10 lettermen for new head coach Trent Johnson.

"This is a big game for us," Pelphrey said. "LSU is in first overall in the SEC and they are playing better than anyone in our league. They are the only team the SEC has ranked. I like their team a lot. They are well-coached and efficient. They get scoring from four or five spots, and they defend and rebound in a big-time way."

LSU downed Arkansas 79-69 in Baton Rouge back on Jan. 31. The Razorbacks fell down 23 in the first half before rallying to within five in the second half.

"We didn't challenge them much in the first half," Pelphrey said. "We competed better in the second half. We need more of that second half."


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