John Pelphrey and the Arkansas Razorbacks Have New Life
Just a week ago it seemed that Razorback basketball could not get any worse. The Hogs were coming off their worst SEC lost in history when Kentucky thrashed them 101-70 and were sitting at 1-3 in conference play.
But what a difference a week can make. Since the embarrassing loss to Kentucky the Razorbacks have bounced back to beat Mississippi State and No. 18 Ole Miss in consecutive games. Both teams sat at the top of the SEC West at the time the Hogs knocked them off.
The two wins couldn't be any more different.
Thursday as the Hogs rallied to come back to beat Mississippi State it was all on the shoulders of embattled point guard Courtney Fortson. Fortson scored 33 second half points in leading the Hogs to the upset. The Hogs pulled off the win in front of the smallest Bud Walton Arena crowd of the season as winter weather hit the Arkansas area.
On Sunday after the Hogs game with Ole Miss had been postponed from Saturday because of the ice storms, the Razorbacks went into Oxford and beat the ranked Rebels with their inside game. Michael Washington and Marshawn Powell took over the second half in leading the Hogs to another come back win.
The win over Ole Miss gave the Razorbacks their first SEC road win in two years, and likely will give the Hogs confidence that they can take with them the rest of the season.
The Razorbacks have taken their lumps this season, and they have a 10-11 overall record to show for it. However, since the return of Courtney Fortson, and the other Razorback players that started the year suspended, the Razorbacks have been a competitive team.
The Hogs are 3-3 in SEC play and are about to enter the softest part of their SEC schedule. If the Hogs let up they will not get good results, but if the team continues to play hard and improve their next seven games are all truly winnable.
It all will start on the road with Georgia on Wednesday. Then the Hogs have Auburn and LSU both in Arkansas. Then the Hogs will have good contests with South Carolina and Alabama in the center of this schedule followed by rematches with LSU and Auburn. If the Hogs get on a tear in this portion of the schedule they can contend for the SEC West.
Winning the West when the Hogs were picked fifth would be a huge accomplishment. The Hogs would likely have to settle for an NIT gig because of how badly they played to begin the season when they were shorthanded, but you never know what the NCAA selection committee will think if Arkansas wins their division and plays well in the SEC tournament. There is still an outside chance, while not a likely one.
One thing that is for certain is that this scrappy group of Razorbacks is fighting hard, and they want to win. The last two wins are a testament to this fact, and the hard work has given this basketball team new life for the remainder of the season as they are in the thick of things in the SEC West.
This article was written by Blake Stansbery of Born Hog Wild.
Follow Born Hog Wild on Twitter @BornHogWild.
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