It was an icy evening in Northwest Arkansas and only about 3,000 people were in attendance (at the almost 20,000 seat Bud Walton Arena) to watch the Razorbacks overcome a huge first half deficit to beat Mississippi State 67-62.
Arkansas started off cold, really cold, scoring only 21 points in the first half, a season low for the Hogs.
To make things worse, Courtney Fortson appeared to roll his ankle in the first few minutes of play and was taken off the court only to reappear a few moments later to single-handedly lead Arkansas to a late victory by scoring a career-high 35 points in 36 minutes.
Hands down, the greatest half of basketball ever played by a Razorback (at least in the last decade).
Stephan Welsh, the only other Razorback to score in double figures, added 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting.
Ravern Johnson led Mississippi State in scoring with 19 points while the rest of the team went 5 of 26 from the 3-point line. Barry Stewart added 11 points for the Bulldogs.
One thing in particular caught my eye during the upset tonight and I have a few questions that need answered:
What happened during the second half when Fortson and Pelphrey appeared upset with each other on the sideline? What was said during that brief discussion that would cause Fortson to go off for 37 points? I am a Pelphrey supporter and I know he wants the best for the team, but does he need to swallow his pride a little and let the oft-suspended (by his coach) Fortson play a little?
Even Jimmy Dikes, who provided commentary for ESPN2, remarked at the quasi-altercation, which seemed to continue for the rest of the game.
I have it from a great source (a board of trustees member) that the University of Arkansas literally cannot afford to fire Pelphrey. They do not have enough money to buy out his contract. Which is fine by me, I love Pelphrey. Like many fans, however, if I am forced to choose between him or Fortson, I am going with Fortson. He wins games.
While the rest of the team appeared dazed by being blown out by Kentucky, Fortson fought through defender after defender. It was as if, half way through the game, he decided he was not going to help his team mates if they were not going to help him taking it upon himself to beat the Bulldogs.
Courtney scored as many points as the entire Mississippi State team in the second half.
Pelphrey did not speak on the confrontation with Fortson during the post game show, instead playing to the crowd still in Bud Walton who greeted him with cheering, but something was obviously bothering the coach. Even after we won the game - arguably the biggest of the season - his reaction seemed lethargic. It seemed like he was disappointed with the outcome.
Anyway, that was on my mind during the game tonight. Please comment below! I would love to hear what you are thinking.