FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas got a tough test from Wofford, but the 19th-ranked Razorbacks pulled away in the second half to open the head coach John Pelphrey era with a 67-45 win Friday in front of 15,341 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Pelphrey’s club earned the win in his first game on the Razorback sideline. The win marks the 13th consecutive season-opening win for the Razorbacks, and their 34th straight win in a home opener. It was the season opener for both schools.
The Razorbacks used a balance offensive attack en route to victory. Four Hogs scored in double figures, led by pre-season first-team All-SEC selection Patrick Beverley, who led all scorers with 15. Darian Townes poured in 14 points, all in the first half, with Gary Ervin and Sonny Weems each chipping in 10 points. Ervin also dished out three assists with no turnovers, while Townes blocked five shots and grabbed five rebounds.
Drew Gibson led the Terriers with 12 points, with Corey Godzinski adding nine and Junior Salters eight.
Wofford held a 13-12 rebounding advantage at halftime, but the Razorbacks finished with a 40-27 edge on the boards. Steven Hill, who played just 11 total minutes because of foul trouble, paced the Hogs with nine boards while Michael Washington grabbed seven boards.
After a Salters jumper put Wofford up 21-19 with 5:15 left in the first half, Beverley made his presence felt. The sophomore made three free throws and a steal with a dish to Weems for a one-handed stuff to spark an 11-5 Razorback run over the last 2:39 of the half. Townes closed the half with an emphatic block and coast-to-coast drive and dunk as time expired to give the Hogs a 30-26 edge.
The second half started much the way the first half ended. Beverley’s three with just under 15 minutes left gave the Razorbacks a 37-28 lead. After a technical foul on Pelphrey at the 13:51 mark, the Terriers pulled within five, 37-32. They would get no closer as Beverley capped a 7-0 run with another three to put the Hogs up 44-32 midway through the second half. A breakaway layup by Ervin ran the margin to 15, 49-34, with 7:52 to play.
After a Tyler Whatley bucket cut the lead to 13, 57-44, with 3:15 to play, Weems exploded down the left side for a high-flying dunk to push the lead back to 15, 59-44, with 3:03 left. Hill’s tip-in and a pair of Washington buckets gave the Razorbacks their biggest lead, and the final score, 67-45.
The Hogs held the Terriers to 28% (7-of-25) shooting in the second half and 36.2% (17-of-47) for the game. Arkansas struggled from the three-point line, shooting just 3-of-18.
Arkansas used its size to its advantage, outscoring Wofford 42-24 in the lane. The Razorbacks feature four players 6-10 or taller.
The Razorbacks got off to a slow start, committing seven fouls in the game’s first 4:39. The Terriers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after a three-pointer by Salters and a driving dunk by Godzinski. Arkansas did not get its first points of the 2007-08 season until Weems dished to Townes for a dunk with 14:25 left in the half.
Wofford pushed the score to 10-2 before Townes flushed home a feed from Ervin and then made a running jumper on the baseline to key a 13-4 Razorback run to give the Hogs their first lead, 15-14, at the 8:57 mark.
The Razorbacks face College of Charleston in the first round of the O’Reilly ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Thursday at 4 p.m. (central).
Download: wofford game.pdf