Arkansas 91, Mississippi Valley St. 54

Jemal Farmer tosses in 18 points, Marshawn Powell and Stefan Welsh 15 and Julysess Nobles 10 points and 6 assists as the University of Arkansas ends a four-game losing skid by routing Mississippi Valley State 91-54 Saturday afternoon before 6,875 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

There were not many people around to see it happen on a sunny day in December, but the University of Arkansas basketball team ended a couple of dubious streaks on Saturday.

Junior Jemal Farmer had a team-high 18 points while Virginia natives Stefan Welsh and Marshawn Powell added 15 each as the Razorbacks whipped Mississippi Valley State 91-54 before 6,875 fans at Bud Walton Arena.

Julysess Nobles added 10 points and 6 assists in win, which ended a four-game overall losing streak for Arkansas (3-5) and was also their first victory in the last four home games.

"Tremendous," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said of how the first win since Nov. 20 made him feel.

Nobles certainly agreed with that sentiment.

"It feels good to win," Nobles said. "We were on a four-game losing streak. We just kept practicing hard and trying to do everything we could to get a win. It feels real good to win."

The Razorbacks also got preseason All-SEC selection Michael Washington back after missing two games with a back injury and he was able to score 8 points and grad 3 rebounds in 18 minutes of action.

"He moved good for it to be his first game back," Nobles said. "I think he did good for the little time that he was out there."

All 11 Razorbacks that played – a season-high for a team that has been shorthanded due to injuries and suspensions – scored in the contest.

It was the first game this season that not one Razorback had to play over 30 minutes a game.

"Obviously it's something we haven't had a chance to do this year, but it's still not where it needs to be from a standpoint of, we didn't know what we were going to get out of Mike (Washington)," Pelphrey said. "(Michael)Sanchez is still very limited. Hopefully at some point in time we can have depth, we can go to our bench and continue to stretch our defense up the floor and be chaotic and hopefully that will help our defense and be able to rebound consistently and be able to play more guys.

"Because at this point in time in the year, Marshawn has played too many minutes, Rot(nei) Clarke has played too many minutes, Mike (Washington) has played a lot of minutes and we're not even a third of the way there yet," Pelphrey added. "We need a bench. Hopefully we'll get one."

Clarke, Arkansas' leading scorer at 24.4 points a game coming into the contest, was held to just 5 points on 5 shots on Saturday.

Pelphrey said that is in large part because of Clarke is wore down having to play an average of 37.7 minutes a game.

He played just 24 against Mississippi Valley State.

"Rotnei tonight was a shell of himself," Pelphrey said. "He's exhausted. He plays every second in practice. He plays every second in the game and that's why it's good to have a little bit of a bench to have some guys step up. That was big by Stef and Marcus (Britt) today."

Pelphrey expects Monday's game with Delaware State to be one where he can use even more of that bench, which saw Britt add 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists off of on Saturday.

"Obviously it will probably be more of a factor the next game," Pelphrey said. "I didn't know what i was going to be able to get out of mike and Sanchez is still on a limited basis. Even though I can put them in there, it's not like we're real sure of a rotation up and down. But it's better than having to go get (practice squad members) Cody (Lay) and Chris (Roberts) just to be able to have eight over there."

Nobles, who has had to play an average of 32.6 minutes per game this season because of starting point guard Courtney Fortson being out for the first semester, was happy to have the help and only 29 on Saturday.

"It's better for me because I get a chance to rest," Nobles said. "I know it has been stressful because I have been tired. I am glad he subbed like that and gave everybody a chance to play…My legs feel much better."

Mississippi Valley State head coach Sean Woods played with Pelphrey at Kentucky and spent part of his press conference talking about how Arkansas should stick with Pelphrey, who got his 5th win in the last 25 games since a 12-1 start last season in his second year.

"I want to say something just on John's behalf," Woods said. "I want you guys to really stick with him because the guy knows what he's doing. You guys got the right guy, but as you can see, sometimes you can't make chicken salad out of chicken you know what. You can have the best x's and o's, but if you don't have Jim's and Joe's you don't have anything."

Woods said he knows how much Arkansas is missing Fortson, who he called one of the nation's top point guards.

"It's unfortunate what happened happened earlier in the year (suspensions) and you've got a guy who probably is one of the first two or three point guards in the country and you lose him, that's hard," Woods said. "I don't care what type of freshman you've got coming in. If you don't have (Kentucky rookie star) John Wall, he's still a freshman.

"You guys got the right guy," Woods continued. I know you know he's made of the right stuff. Rome wasn't built in a day, but he needs his players. he needs players to be successful to implement his system. And I think he'll do that if you guys just give him time and let him have a total nucleus of what he's trying to do."

Welsh, one of those guys suspended earlier in the year, had his best day of the season in the five games he has now played.

The senior guard had 13 of his points in the opening half when the Razorbacks turned a 19-15 lead into a 53-32 one by intermission.

"I think he's trying to do some of the things i want him to do," Pelphrey said. "We need to stay away from over-handling. Early shots in the clock. I thought he gave us a big lift in the first half today. He and Marcus are experienced guards and they can give us a little bit of a lift on offense, give us a little bit of a lift on defense and they need to. They need to do that for us. I thought Stef was pretty good in the first half today and then i thought that Marcus did a little better job in the second half."

Welsh was 5 of 7 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range and also dished out 3 assists.

"It definitely was," Farmer said. "He came off the bench, hit some big 3s and had good energy all game. It was a good game for him."

That lead kept growing in the second half with walk-on Stephen Cox becoming the 11th Razorback to score when he hit a pair of free throws that it 91-52 with less than a minute left.

The Razorbacks shot 60 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes against the Delta Devils (1-7) and 51.6 percent for the game.

They also outrebounded the Delta Devils 45-27. That's the first time since their season-opening win over Alcorn State that they had taken the board battle.

"We have been doing a drill in practice every day because we have been getting outrebounded every game," Nobles said. "Coach Pel put a drill in so we have been working hard trying to outrebound the opponents and the drill worked out."

Farmer and Powell led the way with seven boards each.

"The coaches just shoot the ball and we fight for the rebound basically," Farmer said. "He just told us to crash the board every time and fight for the ball. That is basically what we have been doing. It was good. I know coach is very happy about that."

Mississippi Valley State, whose most famous alum is former NFL great Jerry Rice, did hit its first 17 free throws before missing five in a row and eventually ending up 18-of-24.

Tashan Newsome led the Delta Devils with 17 points while Jason Holmes added 13 for the visitor, who shot just 30.2 percent from the floor.

Arkansas will host Delaware State on Monday night at 7 p.m. and then take a break for finals before returning to the court Dec. 16 against Alabama State.

Pelphrey admitted he wasn't as thrilled at this win as much as he has been disappointed at the losses.

"Probably the thing for me, it's hard as a coach, but i like to stay on an even keel," Pelphrey said. "We're never as good as we think we are, we're never as bad as we think we are. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Certainly i love winning. But probably the losing is probably harder on all of us. So today I probably won't enjoy the win as much as the losses have affected us. And that's probably human nature. But we're already on our way to thinking about the next game."


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