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Arkansas hands Mississippi State first SEC loss

Jan 31, 2008 - 6:11 AM FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas (Ticker) -- Mississippi State turned the ball over and could not stop either Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverly, so now the Bulldogs are no longer perfect in the Southeastern Conference.

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs committed 22 turnovers and Weems and Beverly both had big games to lead Arkansas to a 78-58 victory on Wednesday night.

Weems scored 22 points and Beverly added 19 and 10 rebounds for Arkansas, which snapped Mississippi State's winning streak at nine while moving within a game of first place in the SEC West Division.

"I give Arkansas a lot of credit. I thought they played exceptionally well," Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. "When Sonny Weems and Patrick Beverley shoot the ball and score like that, it's very difficult to match up with, so I give them a lot of credit."

The Bulldogs (15-5, 5-1 SEC West) entered the game ranked in the top 25 for the first time in three years and were 5-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1993-94 season. That all came to an end as they trailed 43-28 at the half and couldn't overcome their turnovers to mount a comeback.

"We weren't at our best. Arkansas had a lot to do with that," Stansbury said. "We'll put this behind us and get ready for Tennessee. I just thought the emotion of the building and playing on the road tonight got to us. We didn't have the offensive toughness you've got to have on the road."

The Razorbacks (15-5, 4-2) scored 26 points off of turnovers to win for the fourth time in the last five meetings with the Bulldogs. Arkansas leads the all-time series, 26-18.

"I'm proud of all of our guys, in terms of how hard they played. We wanted to do the little things more. I thought we were a team," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "I thought we had 'it.' It was pretty cool because I know how good State is. We've got enough experience under our belt, we should be able to do it again."

Weems was 8-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-10 from the arc, and added six rebounds for the Razorbacks, who shot only 36 percent (22-of-61) from the field but made up for it by going 25-of-30 on free throws. The Bulldogs were 12-of-17 from the line.

"(Mississippi State) is a great defensive team," Weems said. "Coach told us to go right at their post players. That was the game plan. We have big hearts, and we looked deep inside and decided we weren't going to let this season go to waste."

Jamont Gordon scored 24 points and Charles Rhodes added 11 and 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

"We were way better than the way we played tonight," Gordon said. "We turned the ball over way too much and they had the home crowd behind them the whole way through. The difference tonight was definitely the home crowd. This was one of the toughest road games we've had because of how loud their crowd was.

"(Arkansas) got shots to fall when they wanted to and they got rebounds when they wanted to. We just couldn't get those things done tonight."