SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Sonny Weems scored 16 points and Patrick Beverley added 13 to lead No. 18 Arkansas to a 70-60 victory over Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday in a consolation game at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
The Razorbacks (3-1) led 34-24 at halftime and held the Rams at bay during the second half. An alley-oop dunk by Weems made it 56-47 with 8:38 to play. Darian Townes scored inside with 1:36 remaining to make it 65-56, and Arkansas closed out the game from there.Michael Anderson led VCU with 16 points, but the Rams (2-2) were held to 33 percent shooting. Arkansas shot 50 percent."When they have their little runs, we've got to be able to fight through the adversity and make our runs as well," Anderson said.New Arkansas coach John Pelphrey was upset with his team after a 67-51 loss to Providence in the semifinals. The Razorbacks turned the ball over 32 times in that game.Pelphrey said then that Arkansas would have double-session practices Saturday. The Razorbacks had 17 turnovers against VCU -- a fairly high but more manageable number."Seventeen is still too many, but it's a lot better than 32," Pelphrey said. "We were committed to playing defense, and the defense put us in a situation that broke up the floor where we were able to make some plays.""It was like 100 degrees in the gym," said Weems, the Razorbacks' second-leading scorer last season. "And Coach was stressing [defensive intensity] all week."Townes had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Weems added eight rebounds of his own. Gary Ervin added 12 points for Arkansas.Eric Maynor had 12 points and five assists for the Rams, and Jamal Shuler added 12 points. Shuler was 4-of-17 from the field.Arkansas started quickly, taking a 24-9 lead on Michael Washington's free throw with 7:59 left in the first half.Pelphrey took over at Arkansas in the offseason after Stan Heath was fired. The Razorbacks went to the NCAA tournament the last two seasons, but lost in the first round each time. Arkansas returned all its key players from 2006-07, which is why the Razorbacks were in the Top 25 entering the season.They figure to drop after the loss to Providence, but how far remains to be seen.Beverley, the team's leading returning scorer, needed just five field goal attempts to score his 13 points. He made one of Arkansas' two 3-pointers and went 6-of-6 from the free throw line."If we keep doing the things we're doing, trying to cut down on our turnovers, the sky is the limit for us," Beverley said.The Razorbacks outrebounded VCU 41-28.Arkansas returns home to face Delaware State next Saturday. The Razorbacks then host Missouri, which is coached by former Arkansas assistant Mike Anderson.VCU hosts Elon on Saturday. The Rams' next game against a major conference team is a Dec. 2 matchup with Maryland.