East Tennessee St. 94, Arkansas 85

Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke hits 10 3-pointers and tosses in 32 points, but East Tennessee State's Tommy Hubbard also has 32 and gets more help from his friends as the Buccaneers whip the Razorbacks 94-85 Friday night before an announced crowd of 6,784 at Bud Walton Arena

So far this Thanksgiving week has been filled with a couple of flat-out cold Turkeys for the University of Arkansas basketball program.

East Tennessee State became the second mid-major in four days to walk into Bud Walton Arena, roll up nearly 100 points and grab a win as it downed the Razorbacks 94-85 before a sparse crowd that was announced as 6,784 fans.

Arkansas (2-3) lost despite Rotnei Clarke tossing in 32 points and hitting 10 out of 17 3-pointers and has now won only four of its last 23 games over the last two seasons under head coach John Pelphrey.

"I think that I have a lot to worry about at this point and time, but we have got to stay focused on the task at hand," Pelphrey said, "and figure out what we have got to do better, how we can get some defense into the game and what it is going to put us in the best defensive situations against South (Alabama on Sunday) to have a chance to win.

"We are going to learn a little about these guys character and toughness," Pelphrey said. "I am sure their confidence is hit a little bit. I don't think this is the way they thought it would start out and I certainly didn't plan on this either. But in life we don't always control at what comes at us, we only control how we respond to it."

Although both of teams that have beaten Arkansas this week made the NCAA Tournament last season, Pelphrey knows his team is not expected to lose at home to them.

"As a basketball coach, you always want to win them all and when you don't you try to find it in yourself to try and figure out what you can do more and help these young men overachieve," Pelphrey said. "I think these guys have a great attitude, a tremendous attitude. They work and they are serious about school and academics. Their day is coming. I hurt for them right now with these because they have been put in some tough situations here early on. But it is going to make us better and it is going to make for a great story at some point in time."

The two losses this week come after Arkansas had won 45 straight at home over non-conference opponents.

"Anytime we lose it is going to be tough because everyone on this team hates losing," Clarke said. "I hate losing. If you are a competitor you are going to hate losing."

Tommy Hubbard had 19 of his career-high 32 points in the opening half and also had 10 rebounds – his fourth double-double in five games - as the Buccaneers (3-3) shot 59.3 percent from the field – a figure that included 11 of 14 3-pointers.

Alabama transfer Justin Tubbs hit 5-of-6 pointers while scoring 21 points and Micah Williams added a career 18 for the visitors.

"It was a good win for us and I am really proud of our guys," East Tennessee State head coach Murray Bartow said. "Tommy Hubbard was outstanding, Justin Tubbs was great, Micha Williams only played four minutes the last game, but he didn't sit around and sulk and pout. He came in here tonight and played well.

"We tried to mix our defense," Bartow added. "We played some man, played a lot of zone. Clarke's phenomenal. He is everything that he is cracked up to be."

Michael Washington and Jemal Farmer added 13 points each and senior guard Stefan Welsh 10 points in his second game of the season.

Arkansas freshman point guard Julysess Nobles had 5 points and a career-high 11 assists, but fellow freshman Marshawn Powell had just 4 points and 3 rebounds.

Powell, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward, was averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds entering the game.

"I thought Marshawn got a little frustrated and we talked about how he can't do that," Pelphrey said. "He has got to keep playing and got to understand that even at this age, he is going to have game plans and stuff that is thrown at him and we have got to be able to adjust."

For the second straight game, Arkansas shot over 50 percent from the field and seemingly had enough offense to win the game.

"It's interesting in that you look at the offensive numbers and they are not that bad," Pelphrey said. "You get 20 assists and 11 turnovers and you think you are going to be in the basketball game. It was very similar to the other night when we only turned it over 10 of 12 times and got 40-plus free throws – you'd think you'd have a chance to win that basketball game."

But the Razorbacks didn't because they were beaten 36-23 on the boards by the smaller Buccaneers.

"It was a good game for us," Bartow said. "We rebounded hard and we competed hard."

East Tennessee State reeled off an 18-1 run to take a 32-23 lead when J.C. Ward got a basket off of the visitors' third shot of the possession with 7:23 left in the first half.

That lead would surge to 16 by halftime and the Buccaneers took their largest lead just into the second half at 51-32 on Ward's 3-point bomb.

That made East Tennessee State 8 of 11 from 3-point range at that point in the game.

"I thought we got off to a good start again, but then all of a sudden they hit us with about four straight threes and it almost seemed like it stunned us," Pelphrey said. "We never really could recover as they played very, very well in the first half."

Arkansas still trailed by 16 mid-way through the second half before making a push.

An 11-2 spree capped by Clarke's 3-pointer got the Razorbacks within 71-65 with 8:12 remaining.

"We had a chance to cut it to four, but missed a lay-up and they responded," Pelphrey said.

That was as close as Arkansas could come in the contest.

"In the second half we outscored them by seven and I thought the guys fought and scratched, but it was just too far down," Pelphrey said.

Arkansas returns to action on Sunday when it hosts South Alabama – where Pelphrey coached before coming to Arkansas.

The Jaguars will come into the game 5-2.

"We have got to make them miss, we have got to grab the rebounds and we have got to find a way to get some defense into the game," Pelphrey said. "It is frustrating."

Jemal Farmer gets loose inside for a slam.

Rotnei Clarke hit 10 3-pointers and was just a point under his 33 points per game average.

Arkansas senior Stefan Welsh had 10 points and no turnovers while playing 24 minutes. He goes up against Tommy Murphy (13), who had 32 points for the winners.

Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey

Hawgs Daily Top Stories