<
>

Beverley, Hogs find long-range touch, pull away late

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- John Pelphrey argued with an official and stamped his foot loudly -- and with that, the new Arkansas coach succeeded where his players were struggling.

He brought the crowd to its feet.

Pelphrey received a technical foul a few moments later, but that barely slowed the 19th-ranked Razorbacks as they pulled away for a 67-45 victory over Wofford on Friday night in Pelphrey's first game as their coach.

"It is great to be a Razorback," Pelphrey said. "It is a good feeling for our guys, my family and I."

Pelphrey, who played at Kentucky, was the coach at South Alabama before Arkansas hired him in April. The Razorbacks went to the NCAA tournament the last two seasons under Stan Heath but lost in the first round each time. They return all their top players from last season, which was enough to earn them a spot in the preseason Top 25.

Arkansas went scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the opener, but Darian Townes helped the Razorbacks rally, scoring all 14 of his points in the first half. Patrick Beverley then found his shooting touch. After going without a field goal in the first half, Beverley made two 3-pointers in the second and finished with 15 points.

"Wofford played us really hard and they are a good team," Townes said. "Coach addressed that from the beginning."

For a while, this looked like another potential upset for a team from the Carolinas.

Wofford is located in Spartanburg, S.C., not far from Gardner-Webb, the North Carolina school that shocked No. 20 Kentucky on Wednesday night. Wofford plays in the Southern Conference with UNC-Greensboro, which beat Georgia Tech earlier Friday night.

"With what's going on around college basketball already, you never take winning for granted," Pelphrey said.

Wofford led 10-2 with 13:38 left in the first half after Drew Gibson's driving layup. Arkansas tried to apply some of the pressure defense Pelphrey has envisioned, but Wofford handled it well.

"I wanted to try and get fatigue into the game, so maybe they'd be a little easier to guard," Pelphrey said.

That appeared to work. Arkansas held the Terriers to 36 percent shooting, and Wofford went 6-of-17 from the free throw line.

Arkansas (1-0) slowly rallied from its early deficit, and Townes finished the first half with a blocked shot and a breakaway dunk.

The Razorbacks went 3-of-18 from 3-point range, but Beverley made one early in the second half to make it 37-28. That was still the score when Pelphrey was given his technical foul.

"I didn't say a whole lot to get the technical foul, but I guess there's a whole new deal going on," Pelphrey said, referencing the NCAA's new emphasis on bench decorum. "I wasn't trying to get one."

Wofford (0-1) scored four straight points to pull within five, but Arkansas answered with an 8-0 run that included Beverley's second 3-pointer.

Beverley was last season's Southeastern Conference newcomer of the year.

"Looking at Arkansas on film, I was scared out of my mind coming into this building," Wofford coach Mike Young said. "They have fine young men, I wish them the best and expect they will do great things."

Gibson led Wofford with 12 points, and Corey Godzinski scored nine.

Gary Ervin and Sonny Weems both had 10 points for Arkansas.

Lagging attendance was believed to be a factor in Heath's firing. The announced attendance for the opener was only 13,196, although the game had to compete with the start of high school football playoffs in Arkansas.

The Razorbacks have won 13 straight season openers and 34 straight home openers.

"I thought the pressure started to get to our players," Pelphrey said. "We still have a lot of work to do."