The play started off slow... too slow.
Arkansas found itself down 8 - 2 early hosting Northwestern State Saturday Night.
[Enter Courtney Fortson - Stage Right]
Fortson, who was held out of the starting lineups for the 1st and 2nd halves, came off the bench at the 17:22 mark to ignite a 39 to 10 run for the Razorbacks which was capped off by a Michael Washington highlight reel dunk that would have made Mr. Holmes question his manhood with 7:29 remaining in the first half.
Fortson was passing, Stefan Welsh was scoring, Washington was rebounding, and Rick Schaeffer looked more fly than Al Boreland in his red-plaid shirt. Bud Walton Arena felt good again.
Even with Rotnei Clarke having a cold night, Arkansas dominated their way to a 54 - 25 halftime lead.
The second half started off the same: Fortson on the bench and the Hogs with a slow start. However, on a night when the 3's were falling more than Empires in a World History Class, and Welsh broke his career high early in the second half, it would not take long for Arkansas to settle itself back in and establish itself as the best team on the court.
The reason: The Hogs were running, they were hustling, they were diving on the floor, and they did appear to mix the old with the new - Old Hawgball and the new influence of Pelphrey's Petino-based philosophy. A philosophy that has Coach Pelphrey's fingerprint and mental twist all over it.
More Hog highlights consumed the 2nd half, and even though the Demons did their share of scoring in the latter part of the game, one almost felt sorry for Demon Head Coach Mike McConathy, who had called an extra practice this week in preparation for this game. Again, we said "almost felt sorry."
The playing of his two sons ad nauseam, the intentional foul on a hustling Fortson by his youngest son Logan (not to mention the grin on the coach's face immediately afterward), and his whining and crying in the second half all but eliminated any sympathy that a Hog fan might have had for family oriented McConathy.
One positive from the negative displayed by the visitors: Courtney Fortson's rebuttal with pure class and leadership to disrupt any attempt of physical confrontation between the two teams following Logan's hard foul and immediate barking. Barking which resembled a chihuahua squaring off against a well-trained and mild-tempered golden retriever.
The rest is all cliche as the Hogs finished the holiday weekend with a 95 - 56 victory over the Demons.
Teamwork and hustle, the heart and soul of all successful teams, were on display in Bud Walton Arena, just in time for the visiting Oklahoma Sooners who make their 247 mile trek on Tuesday, December 30th. A letdown is not in order. In fact, one has to think that it may no longer be on the menu with this team.
Please visit back soon for JCK's take on the game.
Feel free to comment and to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and Happy New Year.
Our apologies for the chihuahua and retriever reference.