FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After watching his team win for the first time in a month, Arkansas coach John Pelphrey credited the Razorbacks' offensive balance.
"The biggest thing, if you look at the stat sheet, we weren't trying to get by on one or two guys," Pelphrey said. "We had five guys in double figures. I gotta believe that when we do that, we're going to have a chance."
Actually, Arkansas had five players with at least 14 points in Sunday's 89-67 win over Georgia. Rotnei Clarke led the Razorbacks with 19, including four 3-pointers.
The Razorbacks (14-13, 2-12 Southeastern Conference) won for the first time since late January. Starting point guard Courtney Fortson had 14 points and eight assists, and Michael Washington added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman forward Trey Thompkins had 20 points to lead the Bulldogs (11-18, 2-12).
"We were playing good team defense and getting out on breaks and (Fortson) did a lot of good, especially finding guys when they're open," Clarke said.
Sunday's game was a rematch of the 2008 SEC tournament championship game. Both teams have struggled in conference play this season. Even with the win, Arkansas remains in last place in the SEC West, and Georgia is last in the SEC East.
Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson watched the game from the sidelines, and members of his 1994 national championship team were honored in a ceremony at halftime. At least one member of the 1994 team, Corey Beck, addressed Arkansas' players before the game. Fortson said Beck "basically said to stop crying. You know, man up."
The Razorbacks had help off the bench from junior guard Stefan Welsh, who has appeared in the starting lineup for Arkansas this season. Pelphrey said Welsh was held out of the starting lineup because of a coach's decision.
"I'm probably more concerned with how he conducts himself, what kind of a teammate he is, than his play," Pelphrey said. "I made a decision to take him out of the starting lineup today. And I could not be more proud of the way he responded."
Welsh played 28 minutes and had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He made two 3-pointers — his first two since Feb. 11.
Arkansas outrebounded Georgia 39-27. The Razorbacks recorded 16 offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs' 4. Georgia committed 21 turnovers.
Thompkins scored 11 early points, and Georgia led 18-15 when he left with his second foul. Arkansas then went on a 22-2 run. The Razorbacks took a 19-18 lead with 11:21 left in the half and never let it go. Thompkins picked up his third foul and left the game with 7:22 left in the first half.
The Razorbacks went into halftime with a 47-30 lead. The Bulldogs never threatened in the second half and trailed by as much as 25.
Pelphrey appeared on the sidelines dressed in black cowboy boots. Richardson regularly wore cowboy boots when he coached at Arkansas, and Pelphrey said the boots were meant to honor the former coach.