Since the return of Courtney Fortson, the Arkansas Razorback basketball team has stepped up their level of play.
The record of 1-2 over that time does not reflect how well the Hogs have played over the three game stretch with Fortson in the lineup.
But when the Hogs can take No. 1 Texas the distance, then give Mississippi State a run for their money on the road, and then beat a talented Alabama team something has changed.
Remember that earlier this season the Razorbacks lost to Morgan State, East Tennessee State, and South Alabama all in a row.
This past Saturday, in the Hogs win over Alabama, four players scored in double figures and an astonishing three players finished with a double-double.
Michael Washington, Marshawn Powell, and Courtney Fortson all recorded double-doubles and Rotnei Clarke dropped 17 points to join the group as the fourth player to score in double figures for the Hogs in the win.
The Razorbacks picked up the SEC win in front of the seasons largest crowd at Bud Walton Arena, announced as 13,332.
Also in attendance was a large group of Arkansas football recruits on their official visits.
Having one player get a double-double is good. Having two players achieve this is great, but having three players leaves me a bit lost for words.
However, the Hogs top four players are head and shoulders above the rest of their teammates. Stefan Welsh, Marcus Britt, Jemal Farmer, Glenn Bryant, and the rest of the Arkansas bench have a long way to come.
So while having three players get double-doubles may be rare, it likely is something the Hogs need to see on a routine basis for this season to continue to improve.
John Pelphrey's best chance at getting a solid fifth player to chip in is his Juco transfer Jemal Farmer. Farmer has had flashes of brilliance in his first season on the hill, but his scoring and rebounding have to pick up. Saturday Farmer played only eight minutes and totaled zero points and two rebounds.
The Hogs resume SEC play Thursday when they host the Florida Gators at Bud Walton Arena and then have to turn right around and visit Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday.
Arkansas will be an underdog in both these games, but if the Hogs can get a split they will sit at 2-2 in SEC play.
If the Hogs were to find a way to pull off an upset in both games, then at 3-1 people would begin to talk about the Hogs having a chance to win the SEC West.
The Hogs entered SEC play with an overall record of 7-8. The worst non-conference record in the entire SEC, but the Hogs see SEC play as an all new season.
Fortson gives the team a totally different look and he has only played three games this season. As he knocks the rust off, expect to see even better play from the Hogs.
For the Hogs to make it to any post season tournament finished near the top of the SEC West is a must. If the first two games of SEC play tell us anything, it is that the Hogs will compete.
This article was written by Blake Stansbery of Born Hog Wild.
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