FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. A three-point bucket by head coach John Pelphrey, along with a pair of 20-point outings by Darian Townes and Sonny Weems, wasn’t enough for the White team to overcome a more balanced attack by the Red in Arkansas’ annual team scrimmage on Friday.
The Red got a combined 74 points from Charles Thomas, Stefan Welsh, Vincent Hunter and Levan Patsatsia to post an 84-78 victory over Pelphrey and the White unit.
The Red jumped out to an early 9-2 lead and steadily built on that during the first 20 minutes of play. At halftime, the Red squad led 53-41 behind Thomas’ 15 points. Townes led his team with 17 first-half points.
At the 8:45 mark of the first half, Pelphrey checked in and 31 seconds later received a standing ovation from the crowd of 5,832 for a no-look pass to freshman Michael Sanchez.
In eight minutes of playing time, Pelphrey was 1-of-3 shooting, all threes, and had two rebounds and a steal.
“There was a lot of discussion about (playing) when we realized we had a short bunch of guys,” Pelphrey said. “I said if I have to then, well, I’ll go in. We’ll get through this thing. I kept asking around and nobody seemed too alarmed or to object to it. I miss playing. If I could play today, I would still be playing. The only reason I’m coaching is because it’s the closest thing to playing.”
“The whole team absolutely loved playing with Coach tonight,” Thomas said. “I noticed his ankles in the locker room before the game and asked Sonny, Are those taped?’ It’s just awesome that he takes this much pride in the program and wants to do everything he can for us.”
In the second half, a baseline jumper by Weems cut the deficit for the White to 58-50, but a three-point basket by Patsatsia and a fast-break dunk by Thomas stretched the lead for the Red back to 63-50.
The lead was under 10 again after a three-pointer from Weems made the score 71-62. After two free throws from Steven Hill, Weems penetrated and kicked the ball to freshman Marcus Britt who knocked down a three-point basket to get the White within 73-68.
With an opportunity to further cut into the deficit, Sanchez missed the front end of a one-and-one. He made up for the miss with a driving lay-up to keep the White within five.
Two free throws by Welsh extended the lead to seven, but Britt answered with a three pointer with 39.9 seconds remaining to get the White within 79-75, but Welsh hit three free throws down the stretch to keep the Red in front.
“We knew we wouldn’t play perfect, but these first scrimmages are a lot like that,” Pelphrey said. “I was pleased with some things in terms of seeing some glimpses of fast-breaking. Stefan and Marcus did a good job of pushing the pace. They did a good job of getting in the lane and sharing the ball. Overall, I think we’ll be able to go back and look at this and use it as a learning tool.”
Thomas and Welsh led the Red with 19 points each while Hunter and Patsatsia scored 18 each. Hill had 10.
Townes had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the White while Weems had 23 points, six assists and four steals. Britt finished with 15 points, Stephen Cox eight and Sanchez four.
Pelphrey played because the Razorbacks were limited to 10 players for the scrimmage. Sophomore Michael Washington did not play for violating team rules, guards Patrick Beverley and Gary Ervin were held out of the game as a coaching decision by Pelphrey and Nate Rakestraw is out with a broken finger. Assistant coach Isaac Brown also played briefly for the Red.The Razorbacks play their first exhibition game on Friday at 7:05 p.m. against West Florida.